THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – A Dutch court outlawed a pedophile association Wednesday, saying its promotion of sexual contact between adults and children breaches the country’s generally accepted moral values.
The civil court in Assen ordered the association, called Martijn, to immediately be dissolved.
The court said in a statement that Martijn is a threat to public order because it “glorifies sexual contact (between adults and children) and presents it as something that should be normal and acceptable.”
Its chairman, Marthijn Uittenbogaard, called the decision “an attack on the freedom of expression.”
“We are not happy and we are considering whether to appeal,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The organization says on its website it was established in 1982 in the traditionally tolerant Netherlands as a “platform for discussion of pedophilia.” It was largely ignored for years, but has been under attack more recently from lawmakers and prosecutors who wanted it banned. Such groups are almost unknown elsewhere in Europe, despite many countries’ history of safeguarding freedom of expression.
Martijn’s former chairman, Ad van den Berg, was convicted last year of child pornography possession and sentenced to three years in prison. Van den Berg claimed the images and films were for scientific research.
The group said in a statement last month that the court should not honor the public prosecutor’s request for a ban, saying it had never committed a crime.
“It is naive to think that banning Martijn will make pedophiles disappear,” the group, which claimed to have 60 Dutch members, said.
Prosecutors who sought the ban said they were satisfied with the court’s decision, adding that it helps the Netherlands meet its international commitments to protect children from sexual predators.
Martijn also made headlines in 2007 when a member posted on the group’s website photos of the then 3-year-old Princess Amalia, daughter of the heir to the Dutch throne.
The royal house went to court and won an injunction barring Martijn from publishing such photos on its site and Crown Prince Willem-Alexander harshly criticized the group for using the pictures.
“I have no words for this kind of child abuse,” he said at the time. “Luckily, I didn’t see it, because if I had, I’d have gone crazy and probably would not have been able to react reasonably.”
Members of Martijn also were involved in a 2006 move to create a political group called the Party for Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity to take part in national elections with a platform that included lowering the age of sexual consent to 12 and legalizing child pornography.
The party failed to collect enough signatures from supporters to allow it to nominate candidates under Dutch electoral rules.
The group would have needed around 60,000 votes to win a single seat in the 150-member Dutch parliament, and pollsters estimated it would have gotten fewer than 1,000 votes.
In 2004, Denmark’s top prosecutor investigated whether a Danish group that openly supported pedophilia could be banned. The investigation concluded that the DanPedo organization, which existed under the constitution’s provision for freedom of speech and association, didn’t break any laws.
However, the organization’s website was shut down by its internet provider in 2004.
Kuno Soerensen of the Danish chapter of Save the Children said some DanPedo members attempted to create new websites, but that these, too, were later shut down.
“Every time we find one of these, we contact the Internet provider to tell them what kind of people are running these sites and they usually shut them down right away,” Soerensen said.
Soerensen said a similar site also exists in Norway.
Associated Press writer Jan Olsen in Copenhagen contributed to this report.