Expatica news

Dewael calls for fingerprinting of foreigners

10 January 2006

BRUSSELS – Belgium’s interior minister has controversially called for electronic ID cards for foreign residents and tough sanctions on anyone helping illegal immigrants.

On Tuesday, many of Patrick Dewael’s political allies demanded he explain the remarks he made in an interview on Saturday to Gazet van Antwerpen.

Speaking to the Antwerp newspaper, Dewael, who is also a deputy prime minister, said he had two “small ideas” for immigration policy.

He said he wanted to see the 1980 immigration law’s articles 77 and 77 bis used to punish anyone who helped or harboured illegal immigrants in Belgium.

He also said he wanted to introduce electronic ID cards, containing fingerprints, for foreign nationals.

The proposals outraged refugee and civil liberties organisations who said the ID card idea amounted to humiliating foreigners.

The socialist party also said it was “intolerable” to police foreigners in that way. The party also said the articles cited by Dewael were introduced to clamp down on people trafficking; the laws were not supposed to be used against the ordinary citizen lending a helping hand to those without proper papers.

However, the extreme right-wing party Vlaams Belang called on Dewael to “actively” search for those helping illegal immigrants and its head, Filip Dewinter, announced that he would bring a legal action against Frank Housteaux, the manager of a Flemish charity, for supporting illegal immigrants.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news