Lessons for the Netherlands in tackling (transnational) child sexual abuse

That is the central question in the report “Boundless?!” published by Ecorys and Bureau Beke. Commissioned by the Scientific Research and Documentation Center, the researchers mapped out the means available to the Dutch government to make it more difficult for sex offenders who are suspected of reoffending to travel abroad. In addition, researchers examined how governments in five other countries deal with this issue and what measures they can take to reduce the risk of exit.

Based on a literature review and interviews with policymakers, police, judiciary, academics and NGOs, Ecorys has painted a picture of the (im)possibilities of policy in Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Australia and the United States. This international comparative study shows that the measures available in these countries largely correspond to the possibilities available in the Netherlands. For example, the withdrawal or refusal of a passport (U.S., Australia and Germany), the duty to report (U.S., Australia and Ireland) and care programs (Germany and Sweden) are also among the possibilities in the Netherlands.

Measures new to the Netherlands include an obligation to register in a registry as is the case in Ireland, for example. A registration requirement offers the possibility to better monitor convicted perpetrators of transnational child sexual abuse. Other measures new to the Netherlands include strengthening the information position through bilateral partnerships, as Australia does, or the wider deployment of liaison officers in destination countries (United States). Focusing on awareness among citizens, as is done in Sweden, offers opportunities to strengthen the preventive approach.

Finally, in all the countries studied, there is a need for more (scientific) research into who the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are and how they operate. This information can be used to better assess the risks of recurrence both at home and abroad. Once risks can be better assessed, existing measures can be used more effectively.

Also read the research report (in Dutch) and Minister of Justice and Security Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius’ response. For more information, contact Gabrielle op ‘t Hoog.

21 February 2022

2 minute read

Key Experts

Gabriëlle op 't Hoog

Senior Consultant