Dutch paedophile association Martijn has removed pictures of naked children from its website in response to “persistent attacks”, a spokesperson for the group says.
Both the Public Prosecutor's Offie and a court in the Netherlands recently decided not to prosecute the organisation, which claims to promote the interests of paedophiles and seeks to legalise paedophilia. On Thursday, however, the Public Prosecutor's Office announced it would ask a civil court to ban and disband the organisation.
The Public Prosecutor argues that Martijn condones and glorifies paedophilia and paedophile sex, something against which both children and parents ought to be protected.
Freedom of expression
The Public Prosecutor's Office expects to submit its request within three weeks. In the meantime, it says it will continue to prosecute individuals suspected of paedophilia. Martijn's president, Ad van den Berg, was recently given a prison sentence after having been found guilty of possessing child pornography.
The move comes after the Public Prosecutor's Office carried out an investigation of Martijn lasting several months. The probe led it to conclude that “Martijn manifests itself in such a way as to breach public decency”. In such cases, it argues, the public interest takes precedence over freedom of expression and assembly.
The announcement came on the same day that ruling Christian Democrat MPs, backed by the small Christian Union party, signalled their intention to put forward a bill to outlaw paedophile clubs. The MPs point out that the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, known as the Lanzarote Convention, gives the authorities powers to ban any association when one of its board members is convicted of owning child pornography.
The two parties are calling for the ban to be incorporated in Dutch law. They say eight current and former members of Martijn, some of them board members, have been convicted of paedophile offences.
Security and Justice Minister Ivo Opstelten of the conservative VVD party maintains that the Netherlands, which ratified the Lanzarote Convention in 2010, already observes the treaty.
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