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Convicted in Belgium, serving in Morocco

Published on 20/03/2007

20 March 2007

BRUSSELS – Approximately 1,100 Moroccans are being held in Belgian prisons. Only several dozen of them will be eligible to serve their time in Morocco.

Only prisoners with definite convictions and no lasting connection with Belgium may be transferred. Anyone with dual nationality for instance, or a permanent address in the Belgium, is not eligible. Nor of course will detainees in pre-trial detention be eligible.

Nonetheless, Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx (PS) can require about 60 prisoners to sit out their prison sentence in Morocco.

Minister Onkelinx signed a bilateral accord to this effect with her Moroccan counterpart on Monday. Belgium is the first country to sign such an accord with Morocco.

Onkelinx was accompanied by Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Home Affairs Minister Patrick Dewael. The government signed a total of seven accords with Morocco.

The federal government hopes the prisoner exchange agreement will help relieve some of the overcrowding in prisons. The number of people in prison exceeded 10,000 last week. Only practice will show if the measure does indeed lessen the pressure on penal institutions in Belgium.

During the Belgian government’s visit to Marrakech, agreements were also made on strengthening police cooperation in fighting the drug trade, human trafficking and terrorism. Morocco is going to help track down radical Islamic websites, for instance.

As part of another cooperation agreement, Belgium will help Morocco set up e-government facilities and draw up emergency plans in the event of a disaster.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news