The Child Focus foundation pleads for a new measure in which everyone who wants to take up the role of Sinterklaas will have to present a certificate of good conduct and morals, following an incident with a Sinterklaas actor who had previously been convicted for having a 'relationship' with a minor.
The man was convicted of the sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl and possession of child pornography. He received a suspended prison sentence as well as a 10-year ban from holding a position in associations that focus on minors, but was photographed dressed as Sinterklaas with children on his lap recently, reports Gazet van Antwerpen.
However, the man could still be booked to play Sinterklaas through an artist's agency.
"With our courses, we try to convey the value of Sinterklaas. To us, it seems impossible to impose some kind of proof of good behaviour," said the Flemish Sint-Nicolaas society, reports Het Nieuwsblad.
As such a certificate is easily obtained by contacting the municipality, Child Focus pleads to take the step when working with children. "Not only for Sinterklaas, but it would be good for everyone working with children, like sports coaches or youth workers. We strive for a legal framework, so that people will have present proof of their good conduct and morals," said Stephan Smets from Child Focus, reports Het Nieuwsblad.
Several artists' agencies stressed that they have not asked for a certificate before, and they have not had any incidents like this. However, they are looking for ways to make sure incidents like this will not happen.
"A legal framework is difficult to regulate, and can be socially undesirable if a friend group or a parents' association occasionally call on an acquaintance to play Sinterklaas," said the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, adding that organisations are free to ask for the certificates if they want to.
The Brussels Times