Belgium’s protection of human rights remains insufficient, report warns
Thursday, 08 October 2020
Belgium still does not sufficiently protect human rights, various organisations warn in a report to the United Nations on Thursday.
In view of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, which assesses the protection of human rights in Member States every five years, three organisations (Unia, Myria and the Combat Poverty, Insecurity and Social Exclusion Service) gave a mixed assessment of Belgium’s policy.
While the three institutions welcome the efforts made since the last UPR five years ago, they believe Belgium can do better.
Among the positive points are “the recent launch of the first steps of a national action plan against racism or the decrease in the number of people in prisons without appropriate psychiatric care.”
On the other hand, the report points out that some of the commitments have not been met, including measures to fight human trafficking. In addition, “most social benefits are still below the at-risk-of-poverty line. They have not been increased in order to guarantee an income that facilitates a dignified life,” the organisations said.
“Online hate speech continues to claim many victims and the right to housing is still not guaranteed for the entire population,” also points out Patrick Charlier, director of Unia.
On the side of the Federal Migration Centre (Myria), director Koen Dewulf raises the difficulty for illegal residents to file a complaint when they are victims of violence or crime. They are afraid to go to the police, who could arrest or deport them.
Finally, the report recommends “to assess the impact of the management of the Covid-19 crisis on the different fundamental rights and to correct these negative consequences in consultation with civil society.”
The three institutions have sent their report to the UN, which will examine the protection of human rights in Belgium in April 2021.