Belgian prison system informed of extremists on staff

Belgian prison system informed of extremists on staff
Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) © Belga

Security services have informed the Belgian prison system about a right-wing extremist staff member and another with radical Islamic tendencies.

Criminal proceedings have been started against both, according to reporting from Belga News Agency.

Belgium’s federal Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) said that the guard with extreme-right sympathies is already on the watchlist of the country’s Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (CUTA), but did not release any more details about the individual.

The recruitment procedure for employees of the prison system includes a check of an applicant’s criminal background, and a 2019 law on the status of prison officers stipulates that upon recruitment, the applicant is subjected to a “morality check.”

“It goes without saying that it is the intention to implement this provision of the 2019 law,” said Minister Van Quickenborne.

There is no designated point of contact to whom an officer or citizen should report a breach of integrity by an officer, but a policeman can always report a suspicion to the ombudsman, and citizens can report suspicious behaviour to the police, the minister emphasised.

Kris Verduyckt (Vooruit) asked for more transparency on the presence of radicalised persons in the state security services.

He made reference to a report by the EU’s Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), which showed that current figures are probably underestimated and are only ‘the tip of the iceberg.’

“The underestimation of the phenomenon is probably linked to the duty of restraint inherent in the professions concerned,” said Verduyckt, “and to fears of a breakdown in public confidence in these public officials. More transparency is therefore needed.”

The Brussels Times

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