Around thirty lawyers from the law firm Progress Lawyers Network (PLN) met on Monday afternoon in front of the Palais de Justice in Brussels to attract the public’s attention as to the consequences of some measures in the Geens programme. The lawyers from PLN launched their initiative “Stop the Geens Programme” on Monday at Brussels Palais de Justice. They are against various aspects of Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Geen’s (CD&V) reform, which they believe risks leading to a less accessible and less democratic form of justice. One of the female lawyers from PLN explained, “For us it is a mistake to increase operational costs of clerks’ offices and at the same time to close some of the offices when they are clearly overworked.” She further reacted, “Our country is one of the ones which spends the least on its justice budget relative to its GDP.” The lawyer, lamenting that the Geens Programme has not been subjected to more discussions between the players within the justice system, further said, “Do we want to reduce costs even more, particularly the level of legal aid? We risk moving towards a justice system which is less accessible for a large number of people.”
The law firm rejects the measure whereby an appellant is unable to alter a request to appeal and the abolition of intermediate appeal judgements, but still more the fact of not appointing the investigating judge to carry out certain duties in the case. It is a question, these justice professionals believe, of an attack on the defence’s rights and on the impartiality of the investigating judge.