Belgian justice and security services are ready to react in case of riots similar to those in the Netherlands happening in Belgium, following calls to protest across the country this weekend.
The Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs, Vincent Van Quickenborne and Annelies Verlinden, assured on Thursday that the security and justice services were at the ready.
“A well-informed man and woman are worth two. I advise everyone to think twice. Our security and justice services are ready to intervene,” Van Quickenborne told the House in response to questions from Philippe Pivin, Bert Moyaers, Steven Matheï and Kristien Van Vaerenbergh.
Thousands are expected to demonstrate against Belgium’s coronavirus measures in Brussels on Sunday 31 January after several calls for protest started circulating on social media.
Until the event goes ahead it remains unclear how many will actually turn up, but social media for the unapproved event suggests 40,000 could attend a protest at the Atomium in Brussels. This follows on from days of riots in the Netherlands, where hundreds have been arrested across the country.
“Those who abuse the situation to create trouble will be prosecuted and will be presented with the bill,” Van Quickenborne said.
Despite calls from sp.a to ban all demonstrations to send “a very important signal,” Verlinden does not intend to go that far, saying that it is not her job to “to ban all demonstrations at the local level.”
Verlinden stressed, however, that demonstrations are only allowed if they are:
Have a maximum of 100 people
Respect current safety measures
If that is not the case they are violating rules, and in this case she offered the support of the federal police to the communes.
“Our police services are ready and available 24 hours a day,” she said.