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Justice minister wants to make voyeurism in a public place punishable

Justice minister wants to make voyeurism in a public place punishable

2 min. 09.09.2017 From our online archive
A look under a skirt, a picture taken with a camera: So far, all of that is legal in a public space. Minister of Justice Felix Braz now wants to correct the legal situation.

The ordeal of a series of women, who were filmed for years by a man in a bus in Luxembourg City without their consent has created a lot of discussions on social media, now politicians have also become involved. 

Minister of Justice Felix Braz explained to the Luxemburger Wort that he wanted to examine the legal situation regarding voyeurism together with the public prosecutor's office. 

Lawsuit brought nothing 

In spite of a complaint and the identification of the man, the judiciary has its hands bound because of a loophole in the law. 

The lawsuit was classified as early as 2012. Several employees of the European Court of Justice in Kirchberg were affected. In the bus lines 18, 7 and 11 from the train station to the Kirchberg, the man filmed the women by hidden cameras, sometimes even under the skirts of those affected. 

The women filed complaints, the police intervened and discovered a camera hidden in a briefcase as well as numerous shots of the same type. However, the judiciary had to stop the case. The man is still on the loose today.

"The judiciary cannot intervene because neither an attack on modesty, nor a violation of good morals or an unauthorised interference with private life took place. The latter would have been applied only in the case of non-public observation. The bus, however, is a part of the public space," said Diane Klein, spokesperson for justice ministry.

Filling the loophole

In a parliamentary question, MP Claudia Dall'Agnol now wants to know how many of these cases are known and whether the loophole in the law could not be filled as quickly as possible by a text adaptation. 

Dall'Agnol refers to Article 371.1 of the Belgian Criminal Code. The law, which was voted in 2016, punishes every kind of voyeurism, also those that are perpetrated with electronic devices. 

However, all of these conditions must be met: the person concerned must be filmed or observed against their will in a sexual activity or naked. In addition, the victim must have been filmed in a situation in which it can be assumed that no one would interfere in their private life. 

Justice wants analysis

Depending on the age of the victim, prison sentences range from six months and 15 years. The act of voyeurism is regarded as fulfilled as soon as the accused begins executing the deed. 

But, "both the French and the Belgian laws would not have been useful in this case," said Braz. 

"They are very precise and some compelling prerequisites were not fulfilled. Nevertheless, I consider the proceedings to be punishable. Together with the public prosecutor's office, we will examine from now on whether the existing texts are not sufficient to intervene in such cases." 

Braz therefore refers back to the attack on modesty, the violation of good morals, the unauthorised interference with private life, or the assault of a psychological nature. 

"I think there is still room for interpretation here," said Braz. If the analysis shows that none of these texts can prohibit such an act and punish it, Braz wants to draw up a new law. 

"This, however, will not be an easy task," said the Minister of Justice.

(By Jacques Ganser, translated from German by Barbara Tasch)