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The Netherlands ignores obligations under UN-Childrights Convention

Amsterdam, 28 July 2010 – The Dutch government is not respecting its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The government is not taking concrete measures to prevent the distribution of images of sexual abuse in other countries, while it is obliged to do so under international law. The government should do everything in its power to remove these images, instead of hiding these behind an internetfilter, according to digital rights movement Bits of Freedom.

This an English translation from a Dutch blogpost. Thanks to everyone who helped translating it!

The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child requires the Dutch government to take measures to prevent the distribution of graphic material depicting sexual abuse. Recently published answers to questions by VVD-members Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Fred Teeven (see below for an English translation) show that outgoing minister Hirsch Ballin is unwilling to take these measures. The minister is of the opinion, the answers show, that he does not consider it his responsibility to remove these websites through international co-operation.

The VVD (the Dutch liberal party) asked the parliamentary questions in response to an analysis by Bits of Freedom regarding a blacklist of prohibited websites which The Netherlands would like to block via an internetfilter (in Dutch). The analysis of Bits of Freedom demonstrated that this list would probably only contain websites from three countries. A lot is wrong with this filter. It does not help victims, because images of sexual abuse are only hidden, not removed. The filter is being built behind closed doors and could possibly be abused for other means in the future.

Bits of Freedom: “The Dutch authorities admit that they do not want to take responsibility for preventing the distribution of images of sexual child abuse in other countries. Instead, it tries to mask its lack of activity by an internetfilter. Victims of sexual child abuse suffer as a result. The Netherlands should do everything in its power to remove these websites, instead of hiding them behind an internet filter.”


Article 34 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that: “States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent […] : (c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.”

English translation of Dutch questions regarding the internetfilter by VVD-members Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Fred Teeven to the Dutch Minister of Justice and his and answers (click here for the Dutch official version)

1. Is it true that you agreed with the providers to only filter websites from countries with which The Netherlands does not have an agreement on international judicial cooperation?

3. How many sites will be on the blacklist when the internetfilter will be put in use?

Answer to questions 1 and 3

No, in discussions with the providers, it was discussed to block sites which contain child pornography which are hosted in countries with regard to which, on the basis of the experience of the Dutch police, for several reasons it has shown to be factually impossible to address these through judicial cooperation.

The list of sites to be blocked is currently being created by the private “Meldpunt kinderporno op internet” [the Dutch hotline to report child pornography on the internet, ed.]. The number of sites which are thus on the list is not yet known.

2. Is it true that the so-called blacklist, which the Dutch providers will use, will contain websites from only a few countries, being Thailand, Japan and South-Korea?


No, see the answers to questions 1 and 3.

4. Do you share our opinion that the hiding of these horrible crimes behind a filter does not solve the problem as such? Is it intended that the number of sites will gradually be reduced? If so, which measures do you intend to take to realise this. If not, why not?


The blocking of the access to websites hosting child pornography, the problem as such does only indirectly contribute to combating this extremely serious form of crime against children. As has been discussed often with your Parliament, the blocking of websites is a complementary activity in addition to the combating of child pornography by the police and investigative powers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of countries in the world were the combating of child pornography does receive no or insufficient attention. Often, child pornography is being offered via the internet from these countries. In practice, it turns out that these kind of sites, which often change hosting, cannot be addressed from The Netherlands, also not via international judicial cooperation. International pressure on these countries remains necessary to ultimately reduce the number of sites.

5. What specific measures have been taken to ensure that Japan, Thailand and South Korea ratify the Convention on Cybercrime and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime?


The Convention against cybercrime has been ratified by fifteen countries. Japan has signed the treaty, but has not ratified it yet. The Convention has the Cybercrime Convention Committee linked to it, which convenes on a yearly basis. At its last convention, held June 24th and 25th in Paris, a Japanese delegation was also present. I do not have information on any interest by Thailand and South Korea to join the treaty. In part on behalf of The Netherlands, the European Union is advocating the Convention on Cybercrime as the worldwide standard in the context of the UN. It is making an appeal to other countries to join the treaty.

Thailand, Japan and South-Korea have signed the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, but have not yet ratified it. The ratification of a treaty is a responsibility of the countries involved. It is not fitting for me to take concrete measures to steer these countries towards ratification.

6. Which concrete measures have you taken to make sure that the sites, that are hosted in Thailand, Japan and South-Korea, will be removed from the Web?

7. Is it your opinion that The Netherlands are making every effort to remove such material? If yes, in which way?

Answer to question 6 and 7

It is not the task of The Netherlands to remove sites from the web that are hosted in other countries. This is a decision of the respective governments. Applying collective international pressure on these countries is and remains the due course of action. Finally I refer to the answer to question 5.

Afbeelding: “FILTER = Fail” van RIUM+, uitgebracht onder een Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic licentie.


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