Ten years of anti-discrimination law: UNIA favours better victim compensation
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    Ten years of anti-discrimination law: UNIA favours better victim compensation

    Although Belgian anti-discrimination legislation is a great step forward, it is still currently necessary to provide better protection for victims. Moreover, appropriate plans should be put in place. UNIA flags this up today (Wednesday) in an evaluation report published on the tenth anniversary of the anti-racism and anti-discrimination laws. The institution, in particular, argues in favour of an increase in compensation for discrimination victims.

    The anti-discrimination organisation laments that a significant lump sum is not required in every sphere linked to discrimination.

    Nevertheless, in contrast an example where it does apply is victims of employment discrimination, who should be paid a minimum of six months pre-tax salary.

    The Director of UNIA, Patrick Charlier, says, “For example, a lump sum of 1,300 euros when someone is turned down for renting an apartment, on the basis of skin colour, is very little. If the system allowed for greater compensation, victims would no doubt take court proceedings more quickly.”

    The criteria, on the basis of which Belgium’s Criminal Code anticipates an increased sentence, should also be broadened.

    UNIA argues, “If an individual is a victim of blackmail, owing to their sexual orientation, the sentence should be able to be increased. This should also apply to other recognised criteria.”

    It goes on, “There are other offences combining violence and discrimination than those set out in law. We can think of torture, inhumane treatment, threats, abuse of authority and once again blackmail.”

    The state of health criterion should be reviewed to take account not only of the individual’s current or future state of health, as presently happens, but also past health problems.

    In terms of scope for action, UNIA flags up the problem that nowadays numerous discrimination complaints are not resolved, owing to a lack of evidence.

    UNIA is clear, “An issue arises when the perpetrators of discrimination are able say that information cannot be used against them in evidence, because it is obtained by illegal means. That must change, in particular by giving labour inspection services the power to undertake situation testing in relation to discrimination.”

    Lastly, UNIA stresses the importance of a royal decree framing the positive action to be taken in the sphere. Currently, businesses who wish to take action to prevent discrmination, and perform research on targeted staff, risk court proceedings. It stresses, “In that sense, there is a need for precision and a clear framework.”

    UNIA formulates in its report, a list of 27 recommendations, relating to anti-discrimination and anti-racism laws.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times