Share article:
Share article:

Police powers for military patrols? No, says minister

Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS). © Belga

Federal defence minister Ludivine Dedonder (PS) has issued a formal refusal to consider a proposal from two N-VA MPs suggesting military personnel on street patrol be given more powers.

The proposal comes from Theo Francken, formerly secretary of state for asylum and migration, and party colleague Michael Freilich, calls for patrolling military personnel to be allowed to carry out simple tasks normally reserved for police, such as identity checks and stop-and-search.

At present, military patrols have only a security and deterrent role. They are allowed to intervene if there is a clear and present danger of terrorist action, but in all other cases are required to call in the police.

So, in 2017 a man was shot dead by soldiers in the Central station in Bruxelles after an explosion in the station – a case of justifiable homicide. However if a military patrol were confronted with a bank robbery, they would not be allowed to take action themselves.

A situation that is less than ideal, according to Freilich.

We don’t want to give them the general powers that the police have,” he told Gazet van Antwerpen. “We do want to prevent soldiers from having to look on helplessly.”

According to the two MPs, the framework in which the soldiers must work at present is too vague. And they recall a demand by Open VLD earlier this month for a more defined legal framework for their powers of intervention.

But for minister Dedonder, the answer is simply no. She sees no reason to allow military personnel to be allowed to carry out police tasks so far outside their normal responsibilities.

And certainly not in Antwerp, where the military presence is due to end in September

It will then be up to the police to take over the surveillance task from the military,” said Dedonder’s spokesperson.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Warnings issued for slippery roads across Belgium
Drivers have been asked to watch out for slippery roads from Saturday afternoon until Sunday evening, as snow and cold temperatures are expected ...
Testing rules following high-risk contact eased for vaccinated people
The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person ...
New measures announced for Belgian schools
Stricter rules are being implemented across a variety of sectors in Belgium to curb the rising number of infections and limit the damage as a result ...
Majority of booster doses should be administered by March 2022
Invitations will be sent out in the following days for the general population in Belgium to receive a coronavirus booster vaccine, and most adults ...
Belgium adopts national plan to combat gender-based violence
Belgium has adopted a National Action plan for the Fight against Gender-Based Violence, which includes more than 200 measures and unites all levels ...
Antwerp cancels Christmas market and New Year’s Eve fireworks
The city of Antwerp has joined other cities including Leuven and Ghent by announcing it is cancelling this year's Christmas market, the end-of-year ...
Pharmaceutical companies looking into vaccines against new variant
Pharmaceutical companies have sprung into action to look into vaccine protection against the new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, ...
Belgium imposes entry ban on travellers from southern Africa
Belgium is introducing an entry ban for travellers from several countries in the south of Africa following concerns about a new variant (B.1.1.529) ...
What Ursula did next
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES • Weekly analysis and untold stories
Nightclub closures, limiting contacts: These rules come into force today
Just over one week after its last meeting, Belgium's Consultative Committee on Friday once again announced a set of new measures to curb the rising ...
Almost 3,500 Covid-19 patients in hospitals as new cases continue to skyrocket
The number of new coronavirus cases in Belgium is continuing to rise, and with it the number of Covid-19 patients who are hospitalised as a result of ...
ECDC issues threat assessment about new COVID-19 variant, WHO designates it as a variant of concern
Preliminary data on the risks of the new COVID variant of concern is high, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said late ...