The Dutch government has decided to suspend handing over criminal suspects to Belgium until it receives better clarity on Belgian prison conditions. The decision was taken on Tuesday by the International Tribunal in Amsterdam. It justifies its decision by referring to a report carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, which is working under the mandate of The Council of Europe. The report has analysed the Belgian penal system and its current conditions.
In its report, the committee denounces amongst other things the Belgian authorities “persistent incapacity” to establish a minimum service to guarantee the prisoners basic rights during recent staff strikes. The report states that nothing similar has ever been observed during visits carried out in 47 member states during the last 27 years.
Speaking as the Public Statement was released, the Committe President Mr Mykola Gnatovskyy said “The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture is today calling upon the Belgian authorities and all stakeholders, in particular the social partners, to face up to their responsibilities and to find an appropriate solution quickly to this exceptionally serious problem, which should not arise in a Council of Europe member state.”
A judge based in Antwerp had recently asked the Dutch authorities to send eight persons suspected to participate in a criminal organisation responsible for drug trafficking between South America and Europe, via the Antwerp port.
Given the Dutch authorities decision to suspend such requests from Belgium, these eight suspects will therefore remain in The Netherlands for the time being.