Dutch to make visiting terrorist-dominated areas a crime in itself

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People who travel to areas ‘dominated by terrorists’ could face a jail term of up to one year if they do not have official permission to be there if an amendment to the current penal code is passed by parliament.

Journalists and aid workers will be free from such a requirement but everyone else will have to make a digital request for permission first, when the amendment, introduced by justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus, comes into force.

Current jurisprudence makes it clear that people who stay in terrorist-dominated parts of Iraq or Syria are supporting terrorist organizations, the minister says.

The aim of this legislation is to allow the public prosecution department to tackle people who return from other areas which may have become terrorist controlled before jurisprudence has been built up.

This is because they could be a danger to the Netherlands on their return, the minister said.

The draft legislation has been submitted to the Council of State, the public prosecution department and the council for the judiciary for its opinion.

Who decides the areas and permissions?

There are many known areas worldwide that the new legislation could apply to. However, in many cases, implementing this law would not be necessary or advisable. The aim of the new law is to prevent residents of the Netherlands from becoming involved in terrorist operations. Areas will thus only be assigned such status when this is essential to satisfy the law’s aim.

Areas will be designated only accessible with governmental permission by Order in Council. This does not mean that no one can visit such areas; it just means that they will need permission first from the Minister of Justice and Safety.

Those with a legitimate reason to go to terrorist-controlled areas, such as journalists or aid workers, will be able to apply for and receive permission. What’s more, journalists and aid workers can apply for these permissions to be valid for up to a year.

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