Flying drones over gardens to control people ‘goes too far,’ warn politicians
Friday, 11 December 2020
The use of drones or counting the number of pizzas that are being delivered to check if people are respecting the coronavirus rules goes too far, according to the Flemish liberal Open Vld party.
“Strict rules are necessary to combat the spread of the virus and protect our health, but these controls must remain proportional and respect fundamental principles such as the right to privacy and the inviolability of the home,” said Tim Vandeput of Open Vld.
“Flying over people’s gardens without any indication is going too far,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Limburg police zone Carma announced that it would use drones equipped with heat cameras to checks on people during the holiday season.
Additionally, the governor of the Antwerp province, Cathy Berx, explained that the number of pizzas delivered by private individuals could be an indication that health regulations were being violated.
Peter De Roover, group leader of the Flemish rightwing N-VA party, and Tom Van Grieken, the president of far-right Flemish party Vlaams Belang, also expressed concern about the attitude of the police as the festivities approach.
“We are facing a serious health crisis that requires serious measures to be taken. We have to stop the coronavirus parties,” said De Roover.
“But if we have to wonder whether we will have the police on our doorstep when we receive granddad and grandma, we risk losing the support of the population for measures that are so necessary,” he added.
Van Grieken called on the government to present a “corona” bill that gives legal backing to some of the measures taken, and not just a simple ministerial order. Months after the start of the coronavirus crisis, this seems indispensable to him.
A “pandemic” law is being prepared, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said, recalling the need to enforce rules that were decided on in a Consultative Committee.
So far, the Council of State has validated all of these rules, she added. However, the Council recently overturned the ban on religious services.
Additionally, Verlinden stressed the importance of the “proportionality” of the measures. The use of drones is a decision for local police forces to take, she pointed out, as long as they comply with the legal provisions. As for home visits, they are already possible.
“It is obviously not the aim that the limits should be crossed. I am particularly concerned that the work is done in a proportionate manner and in accordance with the law,” Verlinden said.