Parliament divided over compensation for terror attack victims
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    Parliament divided over compensation for terror attack victims

    © EPP/Wikimedia
    © EPP/Wikimedia

    Federal minister for work Kris Peeters has encountered widespread opposition to his plan to make compensation to victims of terrorist attacks faster and better. Peeters (pictured) was explaining his proposed new law before the parliament’s justice committee, but his plans were comprehensively shot down by opposition parties.

    “I am furious,” said French-speaking socialist Laurette Onkelinx. “This is the complete opposite of what the investigative committee recommended, and against what the association of victims has asked for.”

    Peeters’ plan, which applies to any future terrorist attack, concerns incidents with up to 50 victims, with a total ceiling of €200 million. The bill comes after complaints from victims of the attacks of 22 March 2016 that the government had failed to consult with them and was dragging its feet on providing even interim compensation.

    The plan involves what is being called a cascade system: claims would be dealt with by insurance companies depending on the nature of the damage suffered. First in line come insurers against work-related accidents, covering for example employees of Brussels Airport or the STIB in the case of 22 March. If that is not appropriate, the turn then comes of family insurance providers. Finally, if neither of those two can take up the case, the victim is handled by the Belgian Communal Guarantee Fund, an association made up of all of the major insurers either based in or with representation in Belgium.

    Stefaan Van Hecke of Groen advised Peeters to sit down with the victims’ representatives and listen to their case. “I hope they have their exchange of correspondence with the insurance companies to hand at that time, and perhaps then you will bang a bit harder on the table,” he told Peeters.

    George Dallemagne of cdH said he was “disappointed” in the form of the bill. “What is on the table here is of immense complexity,” he said. “The associations and we cannot find what we were looking for in the proposals that lie before us.”

    Peeters promised he would meet with the victims’ associations, and would take into account the matters raised by the committee in future discussions of the bill.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times