Nearly 1,600 criminals of foreign nationality and illegally residing in Belgium, were repatriated last year to their country of origin. This was indicated on Tuesday by the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens (New Flemish Alliance). He clarified this following criticisms expressed by the deputy, Filip Dewinter (Vlaams Belang), who had put this number at 47. The far-right politician says that the small number he believes to be realistic evidences the federal government’s inactivity towards “foreign criminals”.
Mr Geens (Flemish Christian Democrats), in a statement to the Belga press agency, mentioned the figure of 1,595 foreign criminals, both sentenced and without residence documents last year. The minister stressed that numerous foreign offenders could not be returned to their country of origin. These are individuals in detention on remand, and who either have not yet been sentenced, or who still have the possibility of appeal.
Mr Geens says that Belgium should also conclude a separate agreement with each country upon both the transfer of given prisoners and the sentence which they should serve. In the (numerous) cases involving short sentences, the length of detention has often ended before the conclusion of the international sentence transfer procedure.