Van der Steur fortifies fight against terrorism

Minister Van der Steur (Security and Justice) wants to broaden the possibilities for fighting terrorism. This objective involves proposals that would enhance the investigation and prosecution of terrorist acts. This was made evident by a legislative proposal sent today for advice to various bodies in the Netherlands, such as the Council for the Judiciary and the Public Prosecution Service (OM).

These measures are necessary to continue to effectively combat terrorism and to prevent attacks as best as possible. The legislative proposal also takes into account recent manifestations of terrorism, such as the events taking place this past year in Western Europe and elsewhere. For example, the attacks by solo, radicalised perpetrators. Furthermore, there will be a greater focus on changes in the near future, such as the return to the Netherlands of Dutch citizens who joined terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria, but were subsequently driven out.

Non-permissible stay

There will be a ban on staying without permission in an area under the control of a terrorist organisation. This represents an additional penalisation option if it is not possible to prove that the returnee has committed terrorist offences. This measure also addresses the danger posed to Dutch society by someone who travels to an area under the control of a terrorist organisation to participate in terrorist activities. Van der Steur submitted this regulation after a motion put forth by Dutch parliamentarians Zijlstra, Van Haersma Buma and Vasco. Those who violate the ban will be subject to a prison term of up to two years.

A small number of people with a legitimate reason to travel to the area in question — such as humanitarian aid workers or journalists working on reports — will receive permission to travel shortly before their departure by the Minister of Security and Justice. The Cabinet will designate said areas, so that it is clear where the penalisation is applicable. This will be happen by virtue of a separate general administrative order. The regulation is limited to Dutch nationals and foreign nationals with a domicile or fixed residence in the Netherlands.
 
Voting rights
Minister Van der Steur would also like the court to be able to take away the right to vote from those who have been convicted of a terrorist offence. At present, this is only possible in a limited number of cases. The measure would only be applied in the event that the accused is sentenced to an nonsuspended prison term of at least one year for committing a terrorist offence.
 
Provisional detention
In addition, Minister Van der Steur would also like to bolster the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. To that end, he will broaden the possibilities for holding jihad fighters suspected of a terrorist offence in provisional detention. This measure would allow more time to gather evidence for those cases requiring complicated (forensic) investigatory work. Van der Steur believes that, in such cases, the Public Prosecution Service should be able to detain a terrorism suspect, even without strong suspicion, for an additional thirty days. The measure stems from a motion introduced by parliamentary members Samsom and Segers.
 
DNA testing
In addition, it will be easier to collect cell samples for DNA testing from suspected terrorist offenders. At present, cell samples can only be collected when there are serious objections against the suspect, which can impede adequate investigation into terrorist acts. For instance, when multiple suspects have been identified and their relationship and the division of labour still need to be determined, while the suspicion against each individual defendant is not yet strong enough to validate the gathering of cell samples. At such a moment, further investigation is required.
 
Obligation to declare
Finally, the obligation to declare will be extended to all terrorist offences, including acts in preparation for the crimes. Information about possible attacks or about participation in a terrorist training camp is vital in the fight against terrorism. Having people in a specific environment who are both alert and prepared to take action aids in discovering a solo perpetrator's preparations for an attack.

Voting rights

Minister Van der Steur would also like the court to be able to take away the right to vote from those who have been convicted of a terrorist offence. At present, this is only possible in a limited number of cases. The measure would only be applied in the event that the accused is sentenced to an nonsuspended prison term of at least one year for committing a terrorist offence.

In addition, Minister Van der Steur would also like to bolster the investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences. To that end, he will broaden the possibilities for holding jihad fighters suspected of a terrorist offence in provisional detention. This measure would allow more time to gather evidence for those cases requiring complicated (forensic) investigatory work. Van der Steur believes that, in such cases, the Public Prosecution Service should be able to detain a terrorism suspect, even without strong suspicion, for an additional thirty days. The measure stems from a motion introduced by parliamentary members Samsom and Segers.

DNA testing

In addition, it will be easier to collect cell samples for DNA testing from suspected terrorist offenders. At present, cell samples can only be collected when there are serious objections against the suspect, which can impede adequate investigation into terrorist acts. For instance, when multiple suspects have been identified and their relationship and the division of labour still need to be determined, while the suspicion against each individual defendant is not yet strong enough to validate the gathering of cell samples. At such a moment, further investigation is required.

Obligation to declare

Finally, the obligation to declare will be extended to all terrorist offences, including acts in preparation for the crimes. Information about possible attacks or about participation in a terrorist training camp is vital in the fight against terrorism. Having people in a specific environment who are both alert and prepared to take action aids in discovering a solo perpetrator's preparations for an attack.
 

 
 

Ministry responsible