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    Brussels attacks: Commission wants action on recommendations

    © Belga
    © Belga

    Members of the follow-up commission to the Commission of Inquiry into the 2016 terror attacks in Belgium have expressed impatience with regard to the implementation of some recommendations. The experts gave an assessment on Wednesday of the state of implementation of the recommendations.

    “Our report on the security situation dates back to June 2017,” stressed Laurette Onkelinx (Socialist Party). “It’ll soon be one year since then and there are just a few useful months from now to the end of the legislature. I find things are not progressing much and, evidently, there are many hurdles.”

    In its third report, the commission of inquiry recommended the creation of a crossroads bank for security that would allow access to all information related to terrorism and security to be better “grounded”. The commission felt this was preferable to the access that “too many services” give each other to their respective data banks.

    Citing the example of the Passenger Name Record database, which records passenger information, one of the experts said that the number of staff there could be significantly reduced. Police, the justice department, the Coordination Unit for Threat Services (OCAM), the intelligence services, immigration or the financial information processing unit would all feed into it, the expert said.

    A law outlining the general legal framework of such a database is still awaiting a “political decision”, whereas it should already have been in place. According to Commission President Patrick Dewael, the commission’s report is tantamount to such a decision. Mrs. Onkelinx said a draft law should perhaps be presented.

    A joint State Security/General Intelligence and Security Service (military intelligence) platform has also been delayed. This was a compromise formula between advocates of merging the two services, including Mrs. Onkelinx, and those who wanted them to remain separate. “I have the impression that we’re not quite there yet,” the parliamentarian stressed.

    Members of the majority, toned down this judgement. The experts highlighted the work in progress. There has been progress on some points, they said, such as the creation of an anti-terror unit comprising members of both services but led by State Security. Military intelligence would second 12 persons to the unit.

    Jason Bennett
    The Brussels Times