Belgium's government moves to boost the exchange of information on terror threats

Belgium's government moves to boost the exchange of information on terror threats
Credit: Belga

Belgium's Council of Ministers on Friday approved a bill and a royal decree on the functioning of the Organe de Coordination de l’Analyse de la Menace (OCAM - Coordinating body for threat analysis), a joint terrorism, extremism and radicalisation database.

The aim of the bill, proposed by Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne is to promote the sharing of information on extremist individuals and to enable faster decision-making.

The idea is also to ensure that the database is kept up to date.

Database contains 700 names

Created after the March 2016 attacks, the database contains the names of extremists and terrorists in Belgium who are being monitored, as well as information on them. Some 700 people are registered on it, divided into different categories and assigned a threat level of 1 to 4.

Following the murder of a police officer in Schaerbeek last year, the minister asked for an analysis of how the OCAM list works. The Local Task Forces, which organise structural consultation between the security services in a judicial district, will become the “cornerstone” of the fight against terrorism.

Each time a person is added to the database or the threat level of an individual changes, the security services participating in the task forces will review the possible measures, such as the withdrawal of security clearances, weapon permits and residence permits or arrest warrants.

Preventing people from falling into the cracks

The measures to be taken will be communicated to the competent authority.  As such, the Local Task Forces cannot replace any other service.

The police and the judicial authorities will also be able to immediately communicate information on the physical and mental health of persons in the database to health care providers. This measure addresses the rapid radicalisation of isolated individuals.

OCAM will re-evaluate the threat analysis at least twice a year and no longer only on the basis of new information. The aim is to prevent people from falling through the cracks, thanks to an up-to-date database. It is also intended that those working in the field will be able to obtain the information they need from the database at any time of the day.

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