Belgian police called out for use of excessive force during lockdown
Share article:
Share article:

Belgian police called out for use of excessive force during lockdown

Credit: Belga

The League for Human Rights is pointing its finger at the Belgian police regarding abuse during the coronavirus lockdown, La Libre Belgique and La Dernière Heure reported.

The League’s accusations are based on testimonies of hard-core arrests collected in an analysis by its Police Violence Observatory, PoliceWatch, which was founded on 15 March 2020.

“We started this research after being alerted by testimonies of police abuse circulating on social networks and in the press,” said Saskia Simon, PoliceWatch coordinator.

Related Articles


“At the beginning of April, we decided to launch a campaign to collect secure testimonies on our site,” Simon said.

The website has two forms – one for victims and one for eyewitnesses. During the lockdown, 80 victim forms were filled out and 31 eyewitness forms. These were studied and some were put aside, either because the events occurred before the lockdown, it wasn’t a case of police abuse, or the events occurred outside of Belgium.

A total of 75 testimonies were selected, concerning events that took place in Wallonia and Brussels between 18 March and 29 May. The data was cross-referenced with data from other organizations, such as Unia or Médecins du Monde.

“Among the most regularly reported abuses, the top three are, in descending order, beatings (36%), arrests (33%) and administrative fines (31%),” the report said. “Next come insults (21%), searches (16%) and the use of handcuffs or collars (12%).”

“Our analysis shows trends that only confirm what many reports written by a multitude of actors, and not only the League for Human Rights, say, namely that young people, racialised people and people in precarious situations are likely to have more serious problems, such as arrests with the use of force,” Simon explained.

“When a white and older person is penalized for not respecting the confinement with a fine, the same behaviour by a young person from a disadvantaged neighbourhood will be penalized with a fine which is more likely to be accompanied by violence,” she said.

The numbers probably underestimate the number and seriousness of cases, according to the League for Human Rights.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Experts call for more widespread use of masks as figures rise
As coronavirus figures continue to rise, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has suggested that people return to wearing masks when indoors with ...
Belgium wants to recover €420 million in wrongfully paid out coronavirus aid
The Belgian State intends to recover €420 million of unduly paid Covid-19 aid, La Libre Belgique reported on Thursday. The electronic Council of ...
Why the fight for transgender rights is polarising Europe 
Year after year, Samuel De Schepper would ask Santa Claus to bring him a penis for Christmas. Born female and attending an all girl’s Catholic ...
New offshore wind farm officially opened
Despite being operational since the end of 2020, the SeaMade offshore wind farm was officially inaugurated on Wednesday by Prime Minister Alexander ...
Contact tracers have no time for calls, only texts, amid rising cases
Contract tracers will no longer make phone calls to the high-risk contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus beginning from Wednesday, ...
Belgium holds on to top spot in FIFA rankings despite recent losses
Once again, Belgium's Red Devils have held onto their position at the top of the world football rankings, according to an update released by the ...
Proximus pushes for high-speed internet in Brussels and Wallonia
Fifteen municipalities in Wallonia should soon have access to high-speed internet through the rollout of fibre optics in the region, telecoms giant ...
Why Belgium is regulating sex work
After decades of confusing rules and hypocritical policy, Belgium is finally regulating sex work by removing prostitution from the criminal law. ...
World’s largest chocolate warehouse opens in Flanders
On Thursday, Barry Callebaut – the largest global chocolate processor and manufacturer – opened the world's largest chocolate warehouse in Lokeren, ...
Belgium in Brief: Equal Opportunity To Dance
There's a phrase where I'm from, more often said in jest nowadays, but it came to my mind this morning: "Ye dancin'?" (Are you dancing?), one ...
Farmer discovers cocaine in banana boxes bought in Brussels
A Flemish farmer who purchased boxes of bananas at the market in Brussels on Tuesday came home to discover large amounts of cocaine packed among the ...
Changes to speed cameras increase likelihood of a ticket
Changes to the way speed cameras work in Flanders and Wallonia will increase the likelihood of receiving a ticket when cars pass them above the ...