Stalking: A look at how global laws have changed

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Stalking is not designated a criminal offence in many parts of the world. In most places, stalking is often outlawed only when it adheres to the legal definition of harassment.

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However, campaigners and anti-stalking activists believe that harassment and stalking should be treated as two different crimes.

In September, the British capital will be home to what it says is an anti-stalking rehabilitation centre for offenders. The London Metropolitan Police says it will be a world-first.

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Momentum has been building globally against stalking, and laws have gradually been introduced to outlaw the crime in some countries.

Developments made in global laws on stalking:

Australia

  • As stated in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act of 1935 stalking in Australia can reach a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment for basic offence and up to 5 years imprisonment for an aggravated offence.

Canada

France

Germany

India

Japan

Netherlands

Romania

United Kingdom

  • The Protection Of Freedoms Act 2012 added the offence of ‘Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress’ into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Before then, stalking was punishable not as a specific crime, but as harassment.

United States

  • Introduced and expanded stalking laws in Alabama, Illinois, and Missouri such as:
    • AL: In 2017, amended crime of stalking to include a much wider variety of harassment such as acting with an improper purpose, intentionally and repeatedly follows, harasses, telephones, unlawfully uses an unmanned aircraft system and much more.
    • MO: amends the offense of stalking in the first degree to a class E felony, unless the defendant has previously been found guilty of a violation of this section

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