Belgium to rent jail space in the Netherlands
Strapped for space in its prisons, Belgium has decided to rent 500 jail cells from its neighbour the Netherlands until new ones can be built, the justice ministry said Friday.Brussels - Strapped for space in its prisons, Belgium has decided to rent 500 jail cells from its neighbour the Netherlands until new ones can be built, the justice ministry said Friday.
The move was approved Friday by the cabinet and is expected to be finalised in coming weeks in consultation with the Dutch government and once approved by the Belgian parliament, a ministry statement said.
"The aim is to use the cell space as quickly as possible" in the Tilburg prison in the southern Netherlands, said Justice Minister Stefan De Clerck.
"It is of course a temporary measure given that from 2012 the new Belgian prisons should be able to open," he added.
In an address to parliament Tuesday, Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy said that "urgent measures" were needed to overcome the problem with the kingdom's prisons.
The possibility of converting military barracks soon to be closed under a plan to slash defence spending on jails is also being looked at, but is likely to prove time consuming and expensive, according to Belgian media.
Recent spectacular escapes from Belgian prisons has brought the spotlight down on the country's overburdened jail system.
The Netherlands has around 2,000 empty prison cells.