10 August 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s arbitration court has opened an investigation into the legality of police traffic fines.
The fines, which are soaring in comparison to 2002 figures, have been challenged by Eric Robert, a lawyer from Vielsen.
Robert’s argument that penalties breached fundamental rights was strong enough for the tribunal in Marche to delay its judgement until the arbitration court had given a verdict.
Police neutrality when imposing traffic fines has now come under scrutiny. Critics are questioning whether officers can make impartial judgements when they know the extra money from the fines will be used to boost police resources.
This is only the case for dues collected from traffic offences, but police forces are currently raking in tens of millions of euros this way.
If the arbitration court rules against the system, the floodgates could be opened for any fine imposed since 25 February to be challenged and delayed.
Jerome Sohier, a lawyer working at the Brussels ULB university, said a ruling from the arbitration court against the police would have a major impact. “It would force the government to take the initiative,” he said.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news