Deaths in police custody rise in past five years, says external body

Deaths in police custody rise in past five years, says external body
Credit: Eric Lalmand/Belga.

Committee P, which provides external oversight of the Belgian police, has received 13 files related to suspicious deaths in police custody since April 2017, of which three occurred in 2022.

The figure has risen over the past five years, according to the committee, with deaths occurring in police cells, and buildings, as well as victims having been struck by police vehicles. However, the external body called for caution with regard to the figure as "we cannot confirm that these files are complete."

Nonetheless, of the 13 files, two had been registered in 2017 and 2018, with a further four between 2019 and 2020, six between 2021 and 2022, and the recent death of 46-year-old Sourour Abouda marking the first case of the new year.

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These figures also align with those of the Observatory of Police Violence in Belgium (ObsPol). The website, which gathers testimonies of police violence, has recorded 39 cases of police brutality since 2017, of which 13 led to deaths.

Furthermore, the aforementioned case of Abouda, who died after being put in a drunk tank by police officers and allegedly hung herself with a jumper, revealed an ongoing issue at the centre where she was held. Located in the City of Brussels municipality, the detention centre had seen two asylum seekers lose their life in 2021, with both deaths the subject of an investigation.


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