Authorities abuse pre-trial detention
16 March 2007
BRUSSELS – The Socialist party SP.A is stepping up the pressure for reforms to the justice department. The party is demanding that the courts stop taking the easy way out by imposing pre-trial detention. This is only aggravating overcrowding in prisons.
“We are happy to build new cells, but there has to be a plan. At the moment it looks too much like we are just putting out fires,” said MP Dylan Casaer (SP.A).
He sketched the outlines of the reform plan for the justice department with which his party will enter the new round of government negotiations after the elections.
Belgian prisons are facing a historical high in overcrowding: the system is currently holding more than 10,000 detainees, while there is really only room for 8,500. With an occupancy rate of 116 percent however Belgium is no exception in Western Europe.
“But we are leading the pack when it comes to pre-trial detention. No less than 33 percent of the prison population is in pre-trial detention. There are immense differences between the situations in different court districts. Public prosecutors and investigating magistrates view pre-trial detention as far too much as an easy way out.”
He wants to step up pressure on the prosecutors and courts to look for other solutions.
[Copyright Expatica News 2007]
Subject: Belgian news