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    Amnesty International is increasingly concerned about Belgium

    For several years, Belgium has become a problematic issue for the international human rights organisation, Amnesty International (“Amnesty”). The President of the Belgian French-speaking wing, Philippe Hensmans, stated this when presenting his annual report today (Wednesday).

    Amnesty says that although every year the finger has been pointed at detention conditions, discrimination and violence against have women, 2016 has also had its share of new insufficiently evaluated antiterrorist measures.

    The organisation views these measures announced immediately after the terrorist attacks, as having been taken in a hurry, with the aim of reassuring general public opinion.

    Amnesty flags up that the government’s anti-terrorist measures were implemented with long term objectives in mind rather than over a short period. The human rights impact is rarely evaluated, but human rights violations will thus be likely to be greater in number than if the government had given more reflection to the matter and perhaps implemented short term measures.

    As Belgium’s perpetual difficulty, detention conditions are still alarming the organisation. It is, once again, denouncing overpopulation, dilapidated equipment and the lack of access to basic service, in particular health care.

    In addition, the organisation stresses that last spring’s prison staff strike further deteriorated prison conditions.

    Lastly, the report regrets Belgium’s policy in the arms trade. The President of the the Francophone wing denounces, “This has placed Belgium and Wallonia in the same group as countries without any morals.”

    He goes on, “Saudi Arabia remains Wallonia’s biggest customer, whilst having no respect for human rights and committing war crimes against the Yemen.”

    This is a form of trading indiscriminately considered “unacceptable” by the organisation which calls upon the authorities to find out about the use made of the arms they are selling.

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times