On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International published on Monday a report on the state of human rights in 2018. It reveals that fundamental rights are under pressure in Europe, and that Belgium is not immune to criticism from NGOs. According to Amnesty, “the Belgian government falls short on human rights.”
Amnesty International targets first the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. This country is still “the Walloon region’s first customer, which continues to flout its international obligations, and (…) risks being an accomplice to war crimes in Yemen,” the Director of Amnesty’s Belgian French-speaking section, Philip Hesmans, complains.
The NGO is also aiming at the Federal Government’s immigration policy, and in particular its decision to lock up adults and children in a detention center. “It is intolerable that our country has returned to this shameful practice, contrary to the best interests of children,” Mr. Hesmans protested. “It is also unacceptable that people are forced to sleep on the street because of the limitation of the daily number of asylum applications, and because commitments to the resettlement of refugees have been suspended.”
Amnesty also regrets the whole saga around the UN’s Global Migration Pact, seeing that it “is an important step in the establishment of an international framework for migration.”
Furthermore, custody conditions are singled out, “remaining very poor, and made worse by prison staff strikes.”
The NGO asks Belgium to improve its track record, and to be “irreproachable” as it will sit on the United Nations Security Council for two years starting in January.