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People publishing pictures or videos of accident victims on social media in the Netherlands will soon be fined severely and may even go to prison.

The law, which was presented at the Dutch Parliament last week, would severely punish those who publish photographs or recordings of accident victims. According to the bill, people found guilty of the crime could be handed a €21,000 fine or even a prison sentence.

It has yet to be approved by the CDA, PvdA and the GroenLinks parliamentary groups.

The law aims to protect victims of road accidents who need help, and fatalities, whose right to privacy must be protected.

Madeleine van Toorenburg, a member of the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) party, who worked on this parliamentary initiative, interviewed the victims of an accident in 2018 on the A-58 motorway. At that time, many drivers and passengers took photographs of the scene and then made the material available online.

It is unacceptable that this should happen. At the moment, nothing stands in the way of publishing pictures of people in need of help or who have died in accidents. This represents an unacceptable intrusion into people’s privacy and causes additional suffering to the victim or their family members,” says van Toorenburg quoted by hln.be.

The authors of the law claim that it is the duty of the onlookers to help the victims, not to photograph or film the tragedy they witness. The mere recording of the place of an accident and the people affected by it is unacceptable, let alone the dissemination of such recordings.

Until now, fines have been imposed in the Netherlands for taking pictures or videos of road accidents, but only if it was related to obstructing the work of the emergency services or was an infringement of traffic regulations (such as using the telephone while driving). Making such material available on social networking sites is currently not penalised in any way.

Regulations in Germany

If Parliament in the Netherlands approves the proposed legislation, it will be another country where photographing accident victims is treated as a crime.

As a reminder, in July of this year, the German Bundestag approved similar legislation. The new regulations complement a law adopted 3 years previous. At present, photographing or recording fatalities are treated as a criminal offence (201 an StGB – German Criminal Code) in order to protect the privacy of the deceased. It is punished with a fine (up to €1,000) and a prison sentence of up to two years. Until now, such regulations only covered the recording of survivors.

Fotó: Pixabay/expresselblag/public domain

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