UN slams Belgium on human rights
06 August 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium has been shamed internationally for its human rights record, it was reported on Friday.
Last month, the United Nations’ committee on human rights heard from a Belgian delegation which reported on the country’s efforts to uphold the International Pact on civil and political rights.
However, the French community’s Human Rights League (LDH) and its Flemish counterpart, Liga voor mensenrechten produced an alternative report which painted a black picture of Belgium’s human rights.
UN experts heard their views in a private meeting before hearing from the Belgian delegation, which included Claude Debrulle, director general of the Department of Justice.
In its concluding report, the UN condemned Belgium for the rise of the extreme right and racism. It said: “Political parties inciting racial hatred can continue to benefit from the public finance system”.
It urged Belgium to rush through a law to end the financing of such parties.
The UN also blamed Belgium for prison overpopulation, stating the authorities were at least partly to blame for reducing the number of paroles and increasing sentence lengths and the amount of prisoners held preventively.
The UN called on Belgium to stop keeping mental patients in prison for several months before transferring them to other institutions.
The Belgian police have also come under fire for using violence, racism and excessive force, and the UN said the police investigation system was not independent and objective.
Nor was the UN happy about the numbers of asylum seekers held in the transit zone of Brussels National Airport in poor sanitary conditions.
It also expressed concern about the amendment of the “universal competence” law.
The law, which allowed individuals to seek redress in Belgium for war crimes or crimes against humanity, no matter where in the world they were committed, was revised after cases were lodged against a number of leaders including George W Bush, Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro.
Earlier this week international human rights watchdog Amnesty International also criticised Belgium’s human rights record.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news