Pedohandbook is still going around on the web with impunity, it’s up to the House of Representatives | NOW

Manuals for pedophiles have been shared on the dark web for years, explaining how they should proceed to abuse children. There was already talk in 2018 about a ban on possessing or sharing such a manual, but so far this has not yet been settled criminally.

From research by RTL News In 2018 it turned out that a manual of almost a thousand pages has been circulating on the protected part of the internet for more than ten years. It sparked concern in the House of Representatives. But in 2019, then Minister of Justice and Security Ferd Grapperhaus said that the so-called ‘pedo manual’ is not in conflict with the law, according to his lawyers.

Incomprehensible, thought Marcel Jeninga, founder of the Fight Against Abuse foundation. He drove to The Hague with a printed version of the manual and gave it to Jeroen van Wijngaarden of the VVD. He then filed a motion to ban the documents. The motion was subsequently passed by the entire House.

Grapperhaus subsequently made efforts to make the manual an explicit criminal offence. A bill was prepared in July 2020, which was sent to the House of Representatives in December last year.

‘It will take far too long for the ban to come’

Two years later, nothing has changed. This means that it is still not a criminal offense to possess a ‘pedo manual’, nor to share it. In 2018, the Public Prosecution Service compared it to owning manuals to make bombs. That is not punishable either.

According to Jeninga, it will take far too long before the manual is banned. “It should be abolished immediately,” he says. “I’ve been doing this for four years now. Why does it have to take so long? That really puzzles me.”

A new law simply takes a lot of time, says a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice and Security. “You first have to write the proposal. Then the text has to pass the Council of State and then those comments have to be processed again. The House of Representatives will soon start a debate about it.”

That will probably happen in early July, just before the summer recess. The debate is in pencil on the agenda, so the passage is still uncertain. “The definitive agenda for that week is only drawn up just in advance,” the House of Representatives press spokesman said. “There’s nothing to say about that right now.”

The file on the ‘pedo manual’ (the bill is officially called Criminalization of preparatory acts for sexual abuse with children) is now with Minister Dilan Yesilgöz-Zegerius (Justice and Security). She takes over the bill from Grapperhaus. This means that the proposal has not been shelved since the change of ministers, emphasizes the ministry spokesman.

Parties appear to be criminalized

At the beginning of this year, political parties already reacted positively to the bill. In a report by the committee of the Ministry of Justice and Security, members of the VVD party say that “everything must be done” to combat child sexual abuse. GroenLinks and D66 also support making the manuals punishable.

Members of the ChristenUnie also express their concern about the distribution of documents with instructions to abuse children. The SP also believes that this should be “absolutely counteracted”. The SGP says it appreciates “the strong signal” of the bill.

Minister Yesilgöz-Zegerius emphasizes that the bill cannot prevent these types of manuals from being put online. “For example, as long as someone owns it, they have the option to post it in various places on the internet,” she wrote in a note last month. According to the minister, the bill does offer the possibility to take preventive action against sexual abuse.

If approved, the proposal will carry a maximum prison sentence of four years for distributing, acquiring or possessing a guide to child sexual abuse tips. “Children have the right to a safe environment to grow up in,” Grapperhaus said two years ago. “It is horrific and unacceptable that people, mostly via the dark web, are sharing advice on how to abuse children.”