Netherlands moves to strengthen law against forced marriages

Recognition of polygamous marriages concluded abroad will be restricted

Government of Netherlands wants to improve marriage freedom by further reducing forced marriages and restricting the recognition of marriages concluded abroad.

A plan designed by State Secretary of Security and Justice Teeven, Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations Donner and Minister for Immigration and Asylum Policy Leers, will make it easier to annul forced marriages.

There will also be a ban on child marriages (under the age of 18). The Cabinet also wants to prohibit cousin marriages.

The recognition of polygamous marriages concluded abroad will be restricted. If a foreign national enters into a polygamous marriage abroad after having applied for a residence permit, the marriage will not be recognized when he takes up residence in the Netherlands. Such a marriage also does not constitute a ground for admission of the marriage partner. Once the foreign national has taken up residence in the Netherlands, he must abide by the Dutch laws and regulations. If he travels abroad after some time to enter into a polygamous marriage there, this will not be recognized.

The situation is different for foreign nationals who have entered into a polygamous marriage before applying for a residence permit in the Netherlands. Since at the time of concluding the marriage there was no link with the Dutch legal system whatsoever, the marriage will have to be recognized.

A marriage of a minor legally concluded abroad can now be recognized pursuant to Article 5 of the Marriages (Conflict of Laws) Act. In the future, this will only be possible if the marriage partners have reached the age of 18 when they apply for recognition of their marriage in the Netherlands.

In addition, the Cabinet wants to include collateral consanguinity to the third or fourth degree in the law as an impediment to marriage, because these so-called cousin (nephew/niece) marriages often concern forced marriages. If there is proof to the contrary, dispensation will be granted.

The measures of the Cabinet are in line with European norms to fight forced marriages.