Belgian police banned from using drones to find lockdown parties
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Belgian police banned from using drones to find lockdown parties

Credit: Belga

Belgian police will not be allowed to use drones to look for violations of the coronavirus measures, the college of public prosecutors announced during a press conference on Tuesday.

The use of drones is “disproportionate” in this case, they said, adding that any evidence obtained via drone images will therefore not be valid.

However, drones can still be used to assess a general situation, such as the crowds in a busy shopping street or along the seafront, according to the prosecutors.

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Last week, the Police Privacy Commission (COC) opened an investigation into the use of drones by the Carma police zone in Limburg.

The police zone announced that it would” use drones equipped with heat cameras during the end-of-year holidays to enforce the coronavirus measures, such as the ban on gatherings and the ban on fireworks.

In a parliamentary meeting on Friday, several politicians had already spoken out against the use of drones, saying that flying them over people’s gardens to control them went “too far” and did not respect “fundamental principles such as the right to privacy and the inviolability of the home.”

Additionally, police will not be allowed to enter people’s homes to check if the measures are being followed, contrary to what Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said last week.

Local police forces always need the permission of a public prosecutor before entering. “This magistrate will assess whether there are indeed sufficiently serious indications of a breach of the coronavirus measures,” the prosecutors said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times