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New Justice and Security laws as of July 1, 2024 | News item

Human RightsNew Justice and Security laws as of July 1, 2024 | News item

Rape and sexual assault victims will be able to file a police report in more situations, descendants of enslaved people can change their name free of charge and attendance at the substantive hearing in their criminal case will be mandatory for defendants and defendants charged with serious crimes. Various acts in the field of Justice and Security will come into force on July 1, 2024. Below is an overview.

From July 1 this year, victims of sexual violence and sexually transgressive behavior will be better protected under criminal law. Thanks to the Dutch Sexual Offences Act, victims can report rape and sexual assault in more cases. In order to prove rape or sexual assault, it is no longer necessary to prove that there was coercion, for example because violence was used or violence was threatened. Someone is punishable if they continue sexual contact, while there are clear signs that the other person does not want to have sex. Coercion is now an aggravating factor, but no longer a requirement for a conviction of rape or sexual assault. The new law also criminalizes sexual harassment in public. Sexual harassment in public can take place on the street, but also, for example, on public websites and via social media. In addition, sexual solicitation of children under the age of 16 – or sex chatting – will be punishable, the maximum penalties for a number of sexual offences will be increased and regulations will be brought more up to date digitally. The basic principle of the new law is that sexual violence and sexually transgressive behavior offline and online are equally punishable.

The ATKM Authority can oblige hosting companies to remove online child pornography

Under penalty of an administrative fine, hosting companies may be obliged from July 1, 2024 to clean their servers of online child pornographic material and to make the harmful images inaccessible to internet users. From now on, the Authority for Online Terrorist and Child Pornographic Material (ATKM) will be able to give IT companies an order, if online images of child sexual abuse have been detected on their servers. Dubious and negligent hosting companies that do not remove the online child pornography material quickly after a report risk a fine. This sanction is subject to turnover and can amount to as much as 10 percent of the company’s turnover in the event of repeated violations.

Mandatory appearance

Mandatory appearance at the substance hearing in their criminal case is required as of July 1 for defendants charged with serious crimes. In the current situation, it is up to defendants themselves to decide whether they are present at their trial. With this change in the law, this will no longer be the case. This gives victims or surviving relatives the opportunity to tell a defendant which loss the crime has caused them. If the defendant is present, the judge and district attorney can question the defendant themselves. It contributes to establishing the truth.

Name change for descendants of enslaved people

Descendants of enslaved people can change their last name free of charge as of July 1. In the colonial past, enslaved people often did not have a free choice of name, but were given a name. In many cases, this was a reference to the (former) slave owner or the plantation on which they worked. Adults who have such a last name, will soon be able to change it free of charge. Currently, the name change costs EUR 835 still. In addition, a psychological statement stating that the last name is a nuisance must be provided. That will soon be history. A statement that the person concerned is a descendant from an enslaved person will suffice.

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