Belgium has not sufficiently evaluated the consequences of anti-terror measures on human rights, Amnesty International notes in its 2017/18 report, published on Thursday. It also points a finger at the Government’s policy on migration and the problematic situation in prisons, adding that Belgium should set the example since it is a candidate for the United Nations Security Council.
The Belgian Government has adopted various measures against terrorism and radicalization following the rash of attacks in Europe, but it has not monitored or measured their repercussions for human rights, Amnesty argues, citing as an example the law obliging social workers to denounce “serious signs” of terrorist violations.
“Basic rights such as professional secrecy are being affected, that’s serious,” commented Philippe Hensmans, director of French-speaking Belgium’s chapter of Amnesty International. “Other measures or bills also concern freedom of expression. We are at the border line with human rights, and we could cross it in practice.”
The Amnesty official said he wondered about the potential implementation of house visits to arrest people residing illegally in the country. “We have to find the correct balance between respect for basic human rights and the defence of citizens,” he warned.
In its chapter on Belgium, Amnesty’s report also criticizes overcrowding in prisons, the “dilapidated facilities” there and the policy on migration which, it says, does not comply with European and international obligations.
However, Amnesty welcomes the involvement of citizens in the societal debate, for example through organizations such as the Citizen’s Platform for Support for Refugees, which helps the migrants in the Maximilien Park in Brussels.
“It’s of capital importance for citizens to say, ‘Enough is enough’,” added Hensmans. “The movement involves all social strata of the population. When Belgians can express their solidarity, they do so.”