Death threats are just one of the reported consequences of the controversial step taken by a Dutch campaign group in publishing the names, addresses and – in some cases – photographs of paedophiles on the internet despite rules in the Netherlands banning such a move.
The group in question, Stopkindersex (Stop Child Sex), has hosted its site in the US to get around the legal ban in the Netherlands. The site was flooded this weekend by people anxious to learn if they are living in the vicinity of a convicted paedophile.
Meanwhile, a small Dutch political grouping – commonly known as the ‘Paedo Party’ – which is campaigning for more tolerance towards paedophile sex, has filed a complaint with the police against the website, arguing that it violates the country’s privacy laws.
One person mentioned on the website, residing in the village of Landgraaf in the southeast of the Netherlands, had the windows of his home smashed in on Saturday by a person or persons unknown. And a convicted paedophile in the province of Gelderland, who has served time in jail, told the press he has repeatedly received death threats over the telephone.
On Friday it was reported that the Stop Child Sex foundation had launched a website (stopkindersex.webs.com) featuring the names and photographs of some 20 Dutch paedophiles, plus their addresses, minus house numbers.
Almost all of them have either served prison sentences, are awaiting the start of their sentence, or are still behind bars.
Dutch privacy laws prohibit the publication of personal details of people who have been convicted.
The foundation aims to sidestep this law by having the site hosted in the United States. It has also published a statement calling on people to refrain from using violence against paedo-sexuals.
Dutch Public Prosecutor Diederik Greive told the ANP news agency that the legal authorities are not planning to take immediate action against the website.
It may prove to be hard to get a name removed from the website, Criminal Law Professor Anton van Kalmthout of Tilburg University told Radio Netherlands Worldwide. “It is up to the people whose privacy is being violated to take legal action, but the problem is: against whom? In previous cases of this kind it has proved very difficult to trace exactly who is behind such websites.”
nd, refuting the claims of the website, Professor Van Kalmthout adds, “One does not protect children by chasing paedo-sexuals. I looked at the site and saw someone who was convicted 21 years ago for having sex with a child. It is unlikely that he is still a danger to society.” There is even a risk, he says, that people whose past is exposed on the website will become socially isolated and may even resort to violence because they feel threatened.
“The website does not contribute to the reintegration of these former convicts into society,” says Professor Van Kalmthout. A view shared by Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin, whose spokesperson says “this kind of naming and shaming is highly undesirable”.