Several hundred justice system operators (magistrates and attorneys, as well as clerks, experts, and translators), gathered at the Brussels Courthouse on Friday at 1:00pm, to express “their distress at (political) decisions they cannot comprehend.” They are asking the government to forgo the savings campaign planned in the justice sector. Unusually, every profession in the field of justice was represented, highlighted several organisers.
Protesters came from all over the country and cheered as 10 speakers were heard. “The judiciary is asking simply, but forcefully, to be allowed to fulfil its mission and serve the population,” said Jean-Louis Desmecht, president of the Collegiate of courts and tribunals. “Allegedly 1 in 6 judges are not being replaced when they retire. This is hard to fathom and totally unacceptable,” he added. “We need a decent work place to carry out our duties,” he also reminded protesters. “If we all try hard, we can make do and achieve results with less. But there are limits,” claimed Patrick Henry, attorney and president of the Order of French-and German-speaking bars of Belgium. Budgetary restrictions threaten the principle of equal access to justice for all, he reckons. “Austerity is striking the judiciary blindly and keeping us from working well on a daily basis. It is also hindering the fight against terrorism, and against economic and financial crime, which are both a plague in a state of law,” said Manuella Cadelli, president of the union of magistrates. (Source: Belga)