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The struggle against child sex trafficking

By ANTHONY T. SALVIA, UPI Outside View Commentator   |   July 12, 2012 at 7:39 AM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- Last month, a civil court in the municipality of Assen, the Netherlands, banned a foundation called "Martijn" that had been advocating the legalization of sexual relationships between adults and children since 1982.

The action follows the collapse in June 2011 of a criminal case against "Martijn," in which the Prosecutor's Office -- de jure independent of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice but de facto under its influence -- argued that propagating pedophilia and child pornography is legally protected under Dutch law.

This contention of the Prosecutor's Office provoked a firestorm of public indignation and paved the way for the recent civil trial.

The prestigious Amsterdam daily De Volkskrant quoted the judges in the civil case as saying, "The Dutch legal system should not give any room to this position [i.e., that pedophilia is a legally protected form of self-expression.]"

This enlightened result was by no means a foregone conclusion. That is because the secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice -- its highest-ranking civil servant -- is a certain Joris Demmink. And Demmink stands accused of child rape.

Two Turkish citizens have brought suit against Demmink for allegedly having sexually assaulted them in the 1990s in Turkey when they were 14 and 12 years old, and, the suit claims, "numerous" other Turkish boys. A third alleged victim has since come forward.

Certainly, defendants are innocent until proven guilty but it is intolerable that the very officials responsible for combating child sex trafficking stand accused of having engaged in it.

Demmink is accused not only of pedophile practices but of using his powers of office to dodge prosecution even in the face of police reports documenting possible criminal actions, quash accusations against him and generally manipulate the justice system in his own favor, thereby denying justice to those who claim to be his victims.

As such, the children of the Netherlands and other countries are paying a steep price for what can only be described as the shameful failure of the Dutch legal and political establishment to discipline one of its own.

The Demmink case is an internal Dutch affair but there are things Washington can do to protect the rights of children in this affair.

For one thing, it can and must deny Demmink the right to enter the United States until such time as he has answered the charges against him in a court of law.

For another, Congress should have hearings on child sex trafficking and the role governmental officials may be playing in surreptitiously aiding and abetting it -- in whichever country -- with a particular focus on the activities of Demmink.

Additionally, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs committees should throw a spotlight on the implications of having an alleged sexual predator as the highest-ranking civil servant in the justice ministry of one of the Netherlands -- one of our closest and most valued allies. If aberrant sexual behavior on the part of government officials is believed to expose them to possible blackmail by enemies foreign and domestic, surely the grave crime of pedophilia leaves them uniquely vulnerable.

The Netherlands is a member of NATO and is undoubtedly privy to national security information. Do we really feel comfortable knowing that the secretary-general of the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice stands accused of pedophilia and of using his powers of office to avoid investigation and prosecution?

The Dutch legal authorities must deal with the charges that have been brought against Demmink swiftly and definitively. Meanwhile, he must not be allowed to take any official actions in cases having to do with the heinous practice of pedophilia, child pornography and child sex trafficking.

The U.S. Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons should address a sharp inquiry to its counterpart in the Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry, and be prepared to suspend all bilateral cooperation with the Netherlands until this matter is satisfactorily resolved.

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(Anthony T. Salvia is a partner at Global Strategic Communications Group, a Washington firm specialized in international governmental relations and public advocacy. Previously, he served as special adviser to the U.S. undersecretary of State for political affairs in the Reagan administration and director of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Moscow bureau.)

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(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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