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

Anti-vaxxers demonstrate against Covid Safe Ticket in Brussels
Hundreds of supporters of the anti-vaxx movement gathered on Saturday outside the headquarters of the Pfizer pharmaceutical company to protest ...
Belgium’s investment funds total 260 billion euros in assets
Belgium’s funds industry grew by 5.3% (13 billion euros) in the second quarter of this year, bringing investment funds available to the public to ...
Brussels to Luxembourg by train in two hours soon possible
The fastest train ride between Brussels and Luxembourg currently takes almost three hours, but that could be slashed to about two hours thanks to the ...
Daily Covid infections up by almost 30% in Belgium
Between 6 and 12 October, an average of 2,438 people were infected with the Covid-19 virus every day, according to figures from the Sciensano public ...
Over 80,000 companies in Belgium non-compliant with anti-money laundering meassures
Over 80,000 companies and non-profits in Belgium are still not compliant with the Ultimate Business Owner (UBO) register, which is required of them ...
Increase in tax exemption for donations in Belgium fails to meet expectations
The increase from 45% to 60% in the tax exemption for donations, decided by the former federal government in June 2020, has cost Belgium more than ...
Sex workers in Belgium to get more social rights protection
The social rights of sex workers will soon be better protected in Belgium, Belga News Agency reports. The Council of Ministers has approved a draft ...
Belgian firms sent almost 266 billion euros to tax havens last year
Hundreds of Belgian firms sent close to 266 billion euros to tax havens last year, De Tijd reported on Saturday. Any Belgian individual or firm ...
Belgian investigator wins prestigious US prize
Olivier Hardy, an investigator with the federal police’s anti-terrorist unit in Brussels, DR3, received on Friday a "Top Cop" prize in Washington for ...
Pegasus Project: European Parliament awards journalism prize to investigation of use of spyware
The Daphne Caruana Prize for Journalism was awarded on Thursday to the journalists from the Pegasus Project coordinated by the Forbidden Stories ...
Belgians can now test their knowledge of driving rules and win prizes
The Walloon Road Safety Agency (AWSR) launched on Friday a quiz to allow the general public to test their knowledge of the highway code. Last year, ...
600 extras wanted for film about Belgian ‘Porn King’ and notorious Antwerp nightclub
A Belgian movie telling the story of a notorious Antwerp nightclub with connections to a Belgian 'Porn King' is looking for 600 extras at the end of ...