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Half Belgian prison population is innocent

Published on 13/01/2005

13 January 2005

BRUSSELS – One out of every two prisoners in Belgium is being remanded in custody and has still to be proved guilty, it was reported on Thursday.

The country has one of the highest EU rates of prisoners awaiting trials in jail – a situation Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx wants to change.

Under Belgian law, the use of ‘preventative imprisonment’ is supposed to be the exception rather than the rule.

Onkelinx wants the principle of innocent until proven guilty to be respected more and is investigating ways in which a defendant’s rights can be reinforced and the legal system speeded up.

She also argues imprisoning fewer suspects would help reduce prison overcrowding.

However, opposition politicians are sceptical about her plans, arguing some suspects are being held in custody due to the slowness of the trial system and for the safety of the public.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news