Violations of language legislation surface in Saint-Gilles prison after complaint about rats

Violations of language legislation surface in Saint-Gilles prison after complaint about rats
Saint-Gilles prison will eventually be closed, and its historic building given a new purpose. Credit: Wikipedia

The prisoner who complained about rats in his cell has also complained about the impossibility to make himself understood in Dutch.

The is held in pre-trial detention in Saint-Gilles. According to his sister, he has received several disciplinary sanctions because he does not understand the guards' orders.

"If this is true, it is degrading and a blatant violation of our language legislation," said Emmanual Vandenbossche, the chairman of the Permanent Commission for Language Control, reports Bruzz.

The man's lawyer, Frank Scheerlinck, has confirmed that his client, who lives in Flanders and speaks Dutch, has been disciplined before because he could not follow the French orders of the guards. "He just does not understand what they are saying," said Scheerlinck, reports Bruzz.

"This is an almost evil phenomenon. He was addressed in French, received orders and instructions that he did not understand, and for not following these orders, he was subjected to disciplinary sanctions," he added.

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The man's sister and lawyer have both said that it is very difficult to make an appointment to visit the man. "Nobody wants to talk to us or explain anything to us," his sister said. "Certain guards definitely understand me, I can see it. But sometimes it is as if they do not want to help," she added.

Not only should there be at least one Dutch-speaking prison guard, according to Vandenbossche, but "the service should be set up in such a way that people can request services in Dutch."

"It is not only my brother," the woman said. "There are several people who do not speak French at all, and who are not helped," she added, reports SudInfo.

"In October we received two more complaints from Dutch-speaking prisoners who were complaining about their inability to ask questions or be helped in Dutch," said Clara Vanquekelberghe, the chairwoman of the commission of supervision for the prison of Saint-Gilles, reports Bruzz.

"We have already raised this problem with the prison management and they also indicate that the majority of the people on the floor are French-speaking. Because of the severe shortage of personnel, it now appears that the influx of new guards is very French-speaking. However, the management is doing its best to deploy as many bilingual teams as possible on the floor," she added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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