The German comedian Jan Böhmermann may be prosecuted for insulting Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.In the Netherlands too, people can be prosecuted for insulting a befriended head of state.
On the insult of a befriended head of state, the Netherlands has a maximum penalty of two years.A friendly state means a foreign power with which the Netherlands is not involved in an armed conflict.
For example, it has occurred a few times that Dutch citizens have been convicted of insulting a head of state.
In the 30s of the twentieth century, three Dutch people were persecuted for insulting Adolf Hitler.Writer Maurits Dekker was fined 200 guilders because he had mentioned Hitler in a brochure hysterically. Also a pastor who would have called Hitler a crook had to appear before the judge. However, it turned out that he had used the word crook, but in the sense that Hitler may not yet be called a crook despite his deeds. In addition, another third person was prosecuted for insult.
In 1966 protests were held in the Netherlands against the Vietnam war.Slogans were called “Johnson Moorderto”, about U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. Citizens were also persecuted for this. A student from Amsterdam received two weeks ‘ imprisonment.
Because insult to friendly heads of state is difficult to maintain and sometimes also prone as in the case of Hitler, it was included in the law that a head of state must make a declaration before prosecution can be made.
In response to the commotion on the German comedian, the VVD advocated the deletion of the law article in mid-April, so that insulting a friend’s head of state is no longer punishable. “Our freedom of expression should never be questioned by a foreign leader such as Erdogan.Humor, satire, ridicule and insult belong to our open and free society, “says Joost Taverne.
His proposal was quickly recommanded by most parties.
The cabinet had the same week to investigate the proposal to abolish the law.As a reason, Minister Ard van der Steur (justice) mentioned that there have been hardly any issues in recent decades where the insult of a friend head of state has playeda role.
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