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Bill seeks to get intelligence services to disclose targets

Belgium’s Ministers of Justice and Defence respectively, Koen Geens (CD&V Party) and Steven Vandeput (N-VA Party), have introduced a bill in parliament that would enable individuals and companies to know whether they are being investigated by State security or the military, De Tijd newspaper reported on Friday. Under the proposed law, someone wishing to find out whether he or she is under investigation by the intelligence services would have to ask the question and prove a legitimate personal interest. The main guarantee is that this method covers information collected at least 10 years ago.

Moreover, the release of such information must not interfere with the work of the intelligence services or the judiciary, nor must it endanger sources or jeopardize international relations between intelligence services. In each case a copy will have to be sent to the Parliamentary Committee of Surveillance, known as the Comité R.

The measure is an exceptional one since the intelligence services in quite a few of the European countries do not guarantee transparency to their citizens. The Belgian Government originally had no intention of tabling a notification obligation, but Belgium’s Privacy Commission and the two supervisors of the intelligence services advised it to allow some form of communication.

The Brussels Times