Tackling transnational child sexual abuse: which lessons can the Netherlands draw from other countries?
This is the key question in the study ‘Borderless?!’ published by Ecorys and Bureau Beke. On behalf of the Research and Documentation Centre of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security, the researchers have identified which measures the Dutch authorities can apply to impede international travel movements of child sex offenders with a risk to recidivism. Besides, the researchers assessed how authorities in five other countries approach this issue and which measures they have at their disposal to limit these risks.
Based on literature research and interviews with policymakers, police, judicial experts, academics and Ngo’s, Ecorys painted a picture of the (im)possibilities of the policies in Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Australia and the United States. This international comparative research shows that the available measures in other countries are more or less similar to the measures at the disposal of the Dutch authorities. Like the United States, Australia and Germany, the Netherlands can also revoke or cancel passports of sex offenders. Similarly, a duty to report (United States, Australia, Ireland) and care programmes (Germany and Sweden) are also part of the Dutch approach.
Measures that are new to the Netherlands include the obligation for convicted sex offenders to register to a national database. This measure is, for instance, in place in Ireland and allows authorities to monitor the convicted child sex offenders more accurately. Other measures that are new to the Netherlands include intensive bilateral collaboration with destination countries (like Australia does) or the establishment of a wide network of active liaison officers (like the United States) with the purpose of improving the intelligence position of the authorities. Advancing the awareness among citizens as is done in Sweden can, furthermore, be part of the strategy to strengthen the preventive approach.
Finally, in Sweden, Germany, Ireland, Australia, the United States and the Netherlands alike, there is a need for more (academic) research into the characteristics of child sexual offenders and their modus operandi. This knowledge can help to assess the recidivism risks both nationally and internationally more accurately. Once such risks can be assessed more precisely, the existing measures can also be put to use more effectively.