Openbaar Ministerie-Curacao-Sint Maarten-BES Islands

BES

Threats, stalking, assault, sexual abuse are examples of serious offenses. When these events occur within (dependency) relations between (former) partners or parents and (grand)children we can speak of relational violence. This type of punishable behaviour is characterized by the circumstance that the perpetrator and the victim -sometimes forced- continue to be part of each other's lives, with the result that the violence can get a systematic character and the recurrence risk may be large.

Because of this dependency relationship, some of the victims do not file a report. In them exists the fear that the filing of a report will more likely lead to a worsening of their situation and not to a solution. Another reason for the failure to report may be that the victim wants the violence to stop, but not that the perpetrator be punished.

Precisely to defend this vulnerable group of victims and to still invite them to file a report, the Public Prosecutor considers relational violence a priority.

The point of departure for probable relational violence still is, a prosecution, but if the victim and the offender do specify the desire to continue on with each other, particularly (forced) help will be deployed. In those cases, the Public Prosecutor’s Office may also choose not to bring the case to court, but to make an offer to the perpetrator, to prevent further prosecution. This offer may consist of following the directions of the probation service, and/or following a training to prevent further aggression. If the offender complies with the stated conditions, then the case will no longer be brought to court, unless the offender falls into repetition.

Sometimes a declarant after some time indicates to wish to withdraw the report. Legally that is not possible. However, the declarant in a letter to the Public Prosecutor may express why persecution is no (longer) desired. The Prosecutor is not bound by the contents of such a letter. One of the reasons for that is that it should be avoided that a victim is placed under pressure from the perpetrator to withdraw the declaration, with failure to prosecute.

To ensure additional safety of a victim, the judge has the possibility to provide that the (alleged) perpetrator may not seek contact with the victim, or is not even allowed to come near the victim. To be able to check the (alleged) perpetrator in those cases, the Judge can demand that the (alleged) perpetrator, be placed under Electronic Surveillance, whereby the movements of the supervised party can be checked and controlled.

Finally it is true that also in those cases of serious relational violence, in which a victim explicitly indicates not to wish to file a report, the police will still try to collect
sufficient evidence to be able to proceed with an ex officio persecution by the Public Prosecutor.

Relational violence must stop, after all; the victim must be protected.

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