Your Federal Quarterly Tax Payments are due April 15th Get Help Now >>

Belgium by huangyuarong

VIEWS: 19 PAGES: 16

									                      AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002
Feasibility Study on the creation of a database on investigations and prosecutions




             REPORT FOR BELGIUM

                              by Michael Dantinne
                Department of Criminology, University of Liège
                                                       AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM




1)     Does your country have a database for investigations? Is it central or regional? Do
       these databases include exclusively criminal investigations or do they also include
       administrative/other investigations? What is their legal basis (statutory or other)?
       Please analyze and attach the introducing legal texts as amended (in English or the
       original language of publication).


       There is a specific central database for investigations in Belgium. It is called: “Banque de
données nationale générale unique” (BNG.)
       This database has been designed in answer to the dysfunction that came out from the
parliamentary investigation about the Dutroux Case (“Affaire Dutroux”) and, as a
consequence, the establishment of new organizational form of police services in Belgium (An
Integrated Police Service composed by the Local Police and the Federal Police). There are
six principles that now regulate the way Police has to manage information:


      1) Police Services have the obligation to transmit all the relevant informant gathered
          during their duty to judicial authorities;
      2) The information flow must be as broad and as structured as possible;
      3) Access to the information must be maximal, both for police and judicial authorities;
      4) Establishment of a supervising authority;
      5) Confidentiality in the treatment of judicial information;
      6) Privacy must be guaranteed, especially the privacy law must be respected (La loi du 8
          décembre 1992 relative à la protection de la vie privée dans le cadre des traitements de
          données à caractère personnel).1
       Articles 44/1 to 44/11 of the law of August 5, 1992 relative to police function are the
ratio legis of the BNG functioning. Article 44/1 describes the overall mission of data
collection by police services: « Dans l’exercice des missions qui leur sont confiées, les
services de police peuvent recueillir et traiter des données à caractères personnel et des
informations relatives notamment à des événements, à des groupements et à des personnes
présentant un intérêt concret pour l’exécution de leurs missions de police administrative et
pour l’exécution de leurs missions de police judiciaire conformément aux articles 28bis, 28
ter, 55 et 56 du CIC. Ces informations et données ne peuvent être communiquées qu'aux


1
    Annex #1


                                                   36
                                                           AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


autorités et services de police ainsi qu'aux services de renseignements et de sécurité qui en
ont besoin pour l'exécution de leurs missions ».2
     Data stored in the database are “personal data” (« données personnelles ») and
“information” (« informations »). These data and information can be related to events, groups
or individuals. But they can only be entered in the database if they have a concrete relevance
for police activity, for its administrative and/or judicial missions3.
     The BNG is supplied by information included in statements, reports and mails issued by
policemen/women. It is also fed by information contained in two other kinds of databases:
“External databases” and “Expert Databases”. “External Databases” are independent from the
BNG but linked to it. This is for example the case for nation–wide criminal record established
by the law of August 8th; 19974. “Expert Databases” are other databases created and mastered
by police services but they focus on particular fields. For example, “Artist” , which is a
database especially dedicated to “art trafficking” or “Afis” is the Belgian database collecting
fingerprints are both expert databases.


2)   Is there a database for prosecutions in your country? Is it central or regional? Do
     these databases include exclusively criminal prosecutions? What is their legal basis
     (statutory or other)? Please analyze and attach the introducing legal texts as
     amended (in English or the original language of publication).


     Concerning the prosecution database, we must admit that Belgium is still at the Stone
Age! There is no central database in Belgium, although we live in a very small country! Each
prosecutor office masters its own local database but these local databases are not connected to
a central system.
     This picture of a local database has to be put in perspective to understand the extent of
the problems it might cause. In some of our judicial districts, there are no shared databases
between pubic prosecutor specialized in traffic offences (“Parquet de roulage”), public
prosecutor specialized in all the other criminal offences (“Parquet d’instance”) and
investigating magistrates. This means that if a pre-trial investigation is launched

2
  Art. 44/1 de la loi du 5 août 1992 sur la fonction de police tel qu’inséré par la loi du 7 décembre 1998
organisant un service de police intégré structuré à deux niveaux, M.B., 5 janvier 1999 – Annex #3.
3
  In fact, a ministerial directive released by Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Home Affairs distinguishes three
kinds of information : information related to judicial police, information related to administrative police and
information related to road-traffic – Directive commune des Ministres de la Justice et de l’Intérieur du 14 juin
2002 (MFO-3), M.B., 18 juin 2002.
4
  Loi du 8 août 1997 relative au casier judiciaire central, M.B., 24 août 2001.


                                                        37
                                                               AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


(“Information” or “Instruction”) about an individual (or a legal entity) in one district, judicial
authorities can’t not only know if such an investigation is in progress about this individual in
other districts but also in the district itself too! This might lead to dramatic overlaps and
messes.
        In practice, judicial authorities, when they want to check that a suspect is not the object
of an investigation, have no automatic tool at their disposal as they want to obtain this
information. If they really want to check this, they usually contact police authorities in order
to access the BNG (generally through the ‘Centre d’information d’arrondissement” – CIA5).
Aware of this deficiency and problems it causes, the Belgian government has launched a huge
reform program called “Phenix” which intends to federate all the particular systems
developed by prosecution authorities in one sole system. This system is going to be built on
the basis of the “electronic file”, the electronic version of the criminal file. Due to the extreme
diversity and heterogeneity of systems now used by prosecution authorities, they are
impossible to describe as a whole or each by each. That’s why we will mainly focus on police
database (BNG) in the next questions, keeping in mind this lack at prosecution level.


3)      Which national, EU or international authorities have access to the databases? If
        such databases do not exist, who has access to information on investigations and
        prosecutions?


As there is no national or regional database for prosecution authorities, following answers
will mainly focus on BNG.


Have access to the BNG at the national level:
          Judicial authorities;
          Police authorities;
          Intelligent services;
          Police Monitoring Services.


        At the international level, there is no direct access for international authorities but
information exchanges. In the context of the Schengen Convention, exchanges between



5
    The CIA is a structure that centralizes information on police activity at the local level.


                                                            38
                                                         AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


police authorities are defined and regulated by the convention itself and Belgium has created
some “operational contact points” to coordinate such information sharing.
        Article #2 of Europol Convention determines conditions and scope of these exchanges
and, if there are mandatory ones, they are limited to organized crime phenomenon and for
problems that affect at least two countries of the European Union.
        Next to Schengen and Europol, Belgium has ratified bilateral agreements with several
countries that aim to reinforce its police cooperation with them. This is for example the case
with Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, etc. Complementary dispositions related to privacy
are included in these agreements.
        The case of Interpol is slightly different, due to its uncommon status regarding the
international law. Data transfers from Belgium to Interpol are now regulated by the Belgian
law and there could be transfers of information (coming from Belgium) from Interpol to other
countries with Belgian authorities authorisation.
        Data transfer from Belgium to other UE countries is possible in the sight of the Belgian
law on privacy (which is, for this aspect, an extension of the principles contained in the
European Directive 95/46/CE relative to security and criminal law questions)6.
        Transfers to non-european law enforcement agencies are only authorised if these
countries have a juridical system or an administrative practice that provides an “adequate”
level of data protection. This “appropriateness” is usually determined by the ratification of
European Council number#108.


4)      At which procedural stage are data introduced to the database (for example, at
        police/law enforcement investigation, launch of formal prosecution, or trial)?


        Police services (local and federal) collect and treat information in their daily work. This
information (related to individuals, groups or events) might be useful for their judicial
assignments and might be obtained actively or passively. The kind of the event, its context of
occurrence and its localisation, behaviours of individuals or groups are some examples of
very useful information collected by police services during their duty. A fast transmission of
information and a good processing are the key-components of police services co-ordination
and efficiency.




6
    Art. 21de la loi sur le respect de la vie privée.


                                                        39
                                                 AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


     Basic judicial activity of policemen is to collect data about committed infringements
(“Faits concrets”) or suspected infringements (“Faits non-concrets”).       Depending on the
hypothesis, there will be statement wording (committed infringement) or information report
wording (suspected infringement). Statements and information reports are both introduced in
the BNG with standardised sheets. This is also the case for several sheets related to derivative
judicial activity as descriptions (“Signalements”) or coordination.
     Police services also perform administrative tasks (maintenance of law and order) and
they can collect interesting information during this kind of mission. This information might
useful for other police services or administrative authorities in charge of law and order and
will be integrated in information reports. There are three kinds of administrative information:
     1. Information related to groups;
     2. Information related to individuals;
     3. Information related to places.


5)   At which procedural stage are data erased for the databases?


     The situation is slightly different for committed infringements on the one hand and
suspected infringements (“informations douces”) on the other hand.
     Forgetfulness is a fundamental principle in privacy. It is established, among others, by
article 5 of Convention #108 of the European Counsel and article 4, 5° of Loi du 8 décembre
1992 relative à la protection des données à caractère personnel du 8 décembre 1992.
     The European Court of Strasbourg usually reminds countries of this principle... This
implies that data must be erased when reasons that have justified their storage have
disappeared: For the BNG, this means when they have no more “concrete interest” for the
missions led by police services.
     In practice, for judicial matters, keeping duration will depend on the prescription on the
infringement committed the information is related to. This duration is harder to determine for
“suspected infringements” and for “administrative information” and it belongs to the Police to
appreciate (in a discretionary way) the appropriate duration.


6)   What is the purpose of the databases as described in their founding instruments?
     What is their use in practice?




                                               40
                                                    AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


     The parliamentary investigation led after the Dutroux Case (« L’affaire Dutroux ») has
launched a deep reform of police services in Belgium. As this investigation highlighted that a
great part of the failure laid in problems related to competition between police services, it was
decided to create an integrated Police that will federate all the former services and that will be
structured at a double level: local and federal.
     Information was pointed out as a key-component of the success in this integration. This
is even more true if we remind that the competition between former police services in
Dutroux Case resulted in a intolerable lack of information sharing between them. We must
keep this in mind when re-reading the core principles that govern BNG functioning and
described in answer to question #1.
     As the BNG is relatively new, it is difficult to have a reliable picture of the way it is
really used by Police. We know that there are still a lot of problems with this new system
which is far to reach all the assigned objectives. Let’s just stress that, as the BNG is a
consequence and an answer to former problematic exploitation of such databases, risk of
miss-use have been taken in account for its design and controls are very tight.


7)   Is there collaboration with foreign authorities for the acquisition of data on
     investigations and prosecutions (please refer to Europol/Eurojust)? Which
     authorities have access to this data?


     Belgian Police has to follow slightly different processes, depending on the authority they
have to send information to (Interpol, Europol, ...).
     We must keep in mind that the juridical context of these exchanges is defined by
international conventions ratified by Belgium as there is a primacy of international law on
domestic law in Belgium.
     In terms of processes, Belgian police services have to distinguish two kinds of data: data
that can be transferred autonomously by Police services and data that can solely be transferred
after an authorisation issued by judicial authorities. But Police has a very broad definition of
data that can be exchanged without authorisation. Let’s quote among others:
     1. For information related to individuals: Name; date and place of birth; sex; situation;
nationality; job; phone, fax and cellular numbers; address; personal data related to suspects
unless this in dangerous for national security; relationships between individuals, facts, places
or suspected objects; antecedents, ..



                                                   41
                                                       AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


      2. For information related to legal entities: Name; commercial name; legal form;
registered office; date of creation; names of directors, beneficial owners; number of workers;
...
      3. Information related to places
      4. Information related to facts
      5. Information related to vehicles.
      When a Belgian police service is contacted by a foreign police service that seeks for a
non-operational information, the Belgian police has the right to give it immediately and
directly. On the other hand, if the inquiry implies searches in the BNG or carrying out an
investigation, the police service contacted must transfer the demand to its hierarchy, except
when this is an emergency inquiry. But the principle is that this kind of transfer is a
competency of one central unit called DSO. DSO will try to respect the following principles:
      1. Respect internal, international law and human rights;
      2. Information coming from Belgian authorities stays the property of Belgian authorities
and not of the foreign authority it is transferred to (and vice versa7).
      3. The “terrain policeman/woman” can determine his/her favourite channel to exchange
information. But DSO can determine another channel (except if there a contradictory
instruction coming from a judicial authority).
      4. Each information request (incoming and outgoing) is stored in an automated system
operated by DSO.
      5. There is no exclusive international channel for the information exchanges. In other
terms, this means that the use of a particular channel can not deprive other authorities from
the information that are needed for a good international police cooperation.
      6. DSO will make sure that data exchanges will respect security standards in the matter
of international exchanges.


8)    What provision is made in your national laws for data sharing between public
      bodies? What are the relevant restrictions?


      At the national level, there are only four kinds of public bodies that have an access to
data stored in the BNG: Judicial authorities, Police authorities, Intelligent services and Police
Monitoring Services. No other public body can have a direct access.

7
  This also means that Belgian Police may not use information received from a foreign law-enforcement agency
in a goal that would be different from the one expressed in the information request.


                                                    42
                                                             AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


        The picture representing these authorities having a direct and in real-time access must
nevertheless be tempered in one hypothesis: art. 44/8 of the law of August 5, 1992 relative to
police function allows that data transmission can be delayed. This is only possible when the
magistrate in charge of the investigation8 estimates that an immediate transmission to the
BNG can compromise the success of the investigation or the security of an individual.


9)      Are there national general principles of law and privacy laws which prohibit either
        the creation of national databases on investigations and prosecutions or the use of
        such data? Please describe and attach these laws.


        As these databases exist, there is no obstruction about creating such records. But this
creation should be limited as one goal of Police reform was to centralize this kind of
information in central databases (see question #1 for more details). For example the creation
of particular databases must be justified by “exceptional circumstances”.
        This doesn’t mean that there are no rules or no principles regulating the functioning and
the use of these kinds of databases. The law of December 8, 1992 relative to protection of
privacy concerning the processing of data’s bearing a personal character holds general
principles (for all kinds of databases) and some specific provisions. Other provisions are held
in the law of August 5, 1992 relative to police function which underlines that police databases
have to respect the law of December 8, 1992. . Let’s mention some of these principles:


           1. A database on investigation could only be created if there is a direct relationship
               between this creation and the aim pursued. This a consequence of the six principles
               listed in the answer to question #1.
           2. Data contained in the database must be strictly limited to requirements defined by
               the aim pursued.
           3. As records like the BNG constitute a violation of privacy, they’re only tolerated9
               and they are surrounded by guarantees of privacy: data gathered might be justified
               by their “concrete interest” for the police missions, data processing must be
               compatible with causes of the gathering, there must be an adequacy between data
               and goals pursued, …



8
    With the agreement of the federal prosecutor.
9
    Because they are considered as being beneficial to the general public.


                                                          43
                                                  AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


10) Is there an exemption to these laws, for example on the basis of the general “public
    interest” to combat crime? Could such an exemption supersede national privacy
    laws?


    Databases are in fact violations of the law of December 8, 1992 relative to protection of
privacy. They are only tolerated because they are established for “public interest”. That’s why
they are surrounded by several guarantees in terms of data collection, processing and controls.
That’s also why their functioning and use should be limited to restricted hypothesises. If this
collect, processing and transmission are authorized for police services, they have to
scrupulously respect privacy.
    Let’s also remember that Belgium is characterized by a juridical principle that establishes
primacy of international law on national law.


11) In view of measure 12 of the mutual recognition programme (OJ C 12, 15.1.2001, p.
    10), would linking national databases be an effective weapon against transnational
    crime or would an EU database on investigations and prosecutions from all EU
    Member States be preferable? What added value for your national authorities do
    you see in the setting up of a EU judicial database as foreseen in Eurojust and, if
    there are any, what would be the current legal difficulties to be upheld in your
    country for the connection to such a data bank?


    Considering the stage of development of both investigation and prosecution databases in
Belgium, a EU database would be preferable to a linking of national databases. But in both
options, Belgian contribution would be problematic, precisely due to this stage of
development (mainly at the prosecution level)!
    Above this, if we consider that this database will mainly be useful in fight against
transnational crime and authors of these crimes not as individuals but as organizations,
networks and sometimes transnational corporations having a supranational activity, a EU
database would be preferable as it looks more like the target it aims.
    The framework foreseen in Eurojust seems to be the best way to concretize this EU
database. Due to the primacy of the international law on national law, there won’t be any legal
difficulties and it will be up to the Belgian legislator to adapt internal rules to suit with this
database establishment and functioning requirements. Difficulties will mainly lay in technical
aspects and the disorganization described in former questions.


                                                44
                                                  AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM




12) Could the EU establish a database for investigations and prosecutions that includes
     relevant data on EU citizens, supervised by a judicial/quasi judicial authority be
     acceptable to your national legal orders? What problems, if any, would you foresee
     and how could they be resolved?


     Due to the principle of primacy of the international law on national law, there can’t be
any juridical insurmountable problem. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any political or
corporatist reluctance if the system designed is at the opposite side of the principles
safeguarding privacy in Belgian national order.


13) Could the EU database supply data to be accepted and used as indirect information
     or evidence before your national courts, or would your national laws limit its use to
     the support of investigations and prosecutions via the provision of soft intelligence?


     It is hard to imagine how data included in such a database could be used as evidence
before Belgian courts, except the cases wherein there are facts in the infringements committed
abroad that justifies Belgian jurisdictions competence.
     This would be more useful to imagine this database as a tool for coordination and support
of investigations whereby police services and prosecution authorities could obtain information
and soft intelligence. This would also allow to avoid parallel and uncoordinated investigations
that could lead to their failure.


14) Which crimes could be included in the EU database for investigations and
     prosecutions? Could it extend past the limited crimes included in the
     Europol/Eurojust mandate?


     On a juridical point of view, it is hard to imagine that data contained in a EU database
might go beyond the limited list included in Europol and Eurojust mandates, except the case
of a modification of these mandates. Nevertheless, article 21 of law of December 8, 1992
relative to protection of privacy concerning the processing of data’s bearing a personal
character allows police services to transfer data to other European countries and authorities.
This means that transfers could extend past the restricted fields listed in Europol/Eurojust
mandates. But if these transfers are made under this article 21 and without modification of


                                              45
                                                              AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


these mandates, transfers will fall under Belgian internal law (law of December 8, 1992
relative to protection of privacy concerning the processing of data’s bearing a personal
character and the law of August 5, 1992 relative to police function). These frameworks are
undoubtedly more restrictive.
        On the other hand, from a criminological point of view, if there are sufficient guarantees
to safeguard privacy, the broadest is that database, the best it is. As organized crime might be
a sum of isolated acts committed in several countries – some of them, individually analysed,
having no evident relationships with organized crime groups traditional activities – a well-
designed database could facilitate the emergence of this diagnosis. Above this, in terms of
efficiency, it would perhaps be useful to evaluate the opportunity of integrating data related
not only to individuals but also to legal entities as they are usually used in organized and
financial crime.


15) What safeguards could ensure that the transfer of data from your national
        authorities to the database does not clash your national law?


        The respect of the process described in question #15 are sufficient safeguards. The role
played by the control authority whose mission is to control data and data processing in the
BNG also seems to be crucial10. This authority is chaired by a magistrate and is composed by
a federal police representative, a local police representative and one expert, all elected by the
Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Justice. This authority has the right to access all
data and information included in all the databases established by police services. It can act on
its own initiative or on request from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Justice. A judicial
control exerted on this kind of databases seems essential and meets the Belgian “culture” in
this kind of field.


16) Which national authority within your jurisdiction could undertake the task of
        transferring the relevant data to the EU database?


        Due to the stage of development of prosecution databases, we will only answer for the
investigation database. This doesn’t mean that data transferring from prosecution authorities




10
     Art. 44/7 of the law of August 5, 1992 relative to police function.


                                                           46
                                                            AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


is impossible but this will be “case by case” and direct transfers. A systematic transmission,
as it would be processed by an automated system, is nevertheless unthinkable.
        For investigation data, as processes already exist for this task, there’s no reason to create
new ones. If it is needed, they just can be ameliorated. Transfers from data emanating from
the BNG will stay under the responsibility of police services, under the responsibility of a
police central organ called DSB. The whole system is going to be controlled by the control
authority described in question # 15.


17) Which national/EU persons may have access to the EU database: judicial,
        prosecution, police?


        Access should be as wide as possible. Judicial11, prosecution and police authorities
should have the same access to these data. Creating particular or specific accesses could be
extremely dangerous and lead to problems like withholding information. Protocols regulating
communication between these three kinds of authorities must then be elaborated, especially
rules imposing a mandatory transmission of data found in the database, from police services
to prosecution authorities. At the Belgian level, this implies that both local and federal police
could have such an access. This also means that the “Parquet of Procureur du Roi”, the
Belgian prosecution authority, should also have such an access.


18) Which EU agency could be a suitable host for the EU database? Could Eurojust
        (pursuant to Article 14 of the Eurojust Decision) establish a database for
        investigations and prosecutions that includes relevant data on EU citizens,
        supervised by a judicial/quasi judicial authority be acceptable to your national legal
        orders? What problems, if any, would you foresee and how could they be resolved?


        Eurojust seems to be the best host for such a database. Rules included in articles 14 to 24
of the Eurojust decision establish a framework that seems to give sufficient guarantees for
privacy. From a quasi-cultural point of view and especially after Dutroux-Case, Belgians
usually mistrust police mastering of this kind of databases and there will be less reluctance if
this mastering is attributed to a judicial authority. If we consider the Belgian situation and the
respective growths of investigation and prosecution databases (and the fact that the BNG of

11
     Hypothesis wherein judicial persons would need to access seem to be less restrictive.



                                                          47
                                                         AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


police services is far ahead), choosing Eurojust as the host of this database can also
equilibrate internal imbalance.


19) In view of the free movement of persons within the EU and the increase in crime,
     would such a database constitute an effective weapon against crime?


     First, we should wonder whether or not there is really an increase in crime. Is this not an
increase in the focus granted by states (and media’s and public opinion) to this phenomenon
(especially organised crime and terrorism) that gives the impress of its intrinsic increase?
And these phenomenon also have to be put back in their context, among other globalisation12
and a world wherein there is less and less sovereignty.
     If we imagine that this database might mainly be useful in the fight against organized
crime, we shouldn’t forget that transnational organised crime is a very particular
phenomenon. It is hard to fight a transnational (and sometimes supranational) phenomenon
only with national weapons. This means that if efforts are not made collectively by states but
remain isolated, their efficiency will remain strictly limited. In such an hypothesis, organised
crime groups will keep doing their shopping, choosing the less risky places for their activities,
considering applicable law and law enforcement agencies efficiency. So, answers to organised
crime and crime in general must be, at least, regional for want of global ones. The
establishment of a database including information on investigations and prosecutions that
were led (or that are in progress) could certainly be a useful tool for investigation and
prosecution authorities. It might facilitate transnational coordination between these
authorities. It might also highlight relationships between several cases that occurred in several
countries and that would have not appeared linked without this database. But, next to the
design (information, access,...) it is the functioning quality of this database that will determine
its concrete efficiency. This means, at our point of view: swiftness, structure, staff training, ...
     However, this efficiency cannot be at any cost. If the fight against organised crime,
financial crime and this kind of phenomenon seems to be a priority of EU member states, and
if the creation of database including data on investigations and prosecutions seems a good
step in that direction, this shouldn’t be a sufficient reason to violate the right to privacy...



12
   For example, it is sometimes assumed that there is more smuggling than in the past. But we have also to
consider that the total amount of exchanges has dramatically increased during the past decade and the proportion
of goods smuggled is perhaps the same as before.


                                                      48
                                                 AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM


20) Do you foresee political opposition, in your country, to a move for the creation of
    such a database either by political parties or by human rights groups?


    It was very interesting to study political parties programme for the European elections
that happened June, 13th. All the democratic parties stress their willing to strengthen police
and judicial cooperation between European countries. For nearly all these parties, this implies
to mainly reinforce Eurojust competencies and powers and, for some of them, to turn it into a
true European Prosecution authority. Some of these democratic parties also stress that it
would be useful to guarantee both a political (by the European Parliament) and a judicial ( by
the European Court of Justice) control. All these political positions are conditioned by
security concerns, especially terrorism.
    Above this, no political party has the particular plan to support the implementation of
such a database. But, as they are all favourable to a strengthening of police and judicial
cooperation in Europe, it is hard to imagine that they will be opposed to the principle of such
a creation. Political opposition, if there any, could consequently be motivated by modes of
implementation of this database more than by the idea of the creation itself, in terms of
privacy, etc. As we wrote in answer to question #19, if the fight against organised crime is
something very important, this can’t be at any cost, and human rights, including privacy, must
scrupulously be respected.


21) Is crime seen as a serious problem, by the media and the public, in your country?
    Justify your opinion by reference to interviews with representatives of the main
    political parties (a telephone call to their headquarters is adequate).


    Crime and insecurity are a central topics in Belgium. Concomitantly with the very recent
European elections, there were regional elections in Belgium. Despite justice and security are
mainly competencies of the federal state and not of the federate entities, these themes were
omnipresent during the campaign. This is certainly reinforced by the fact that the Dutroux
trial’s was happening during this campaign. Above this, crime and (in)security are constant
concerns of political parties. This is demonstrated by the legislative work accomplished in this
field during the ten past years.


22) Is there a move in your country towards the reduction of police powers and the
    promotion of the rehabilitation of ex-offenders?


                                              49
                                                 AGIS PROJECT JAI/2003/AGIS/002 – BELGIUM




    There is a move towards the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. This is attested, for example,
by an effort in restorative justice: each Belgian prison is now staffed with its “restorative
justice consultants”. This tendency is also demonstrated by all the juridical constructions that
aim to avoid imprisonment. This is for example the case for the Community Service that was
established as an autonomous sanction in 2002 and, in general, this is stressed by the impetus
given to non-custody sanctions in Belgium.
    Asserting that there is move towards the reduction of police powers do not perfectly
reflect the Belgian situation. More precisely there is move, not towards the reduction of police
powers, but towards the surrounding of these powers. This aims to give them clear juridical
frameworks and to avoid, by that way, the development of dangerous proactive police
activities. This is also a consequence of the investigations led after the Dutroux Case which
highlighted the powers that a former police service (“Gendarmerie”) assumed...


23) Please feel free to make additional comments.


[No comments made]




Interviews:


Interview of Michèle Mons delle Roche, Prosecuto of Marche-en-Famenne, June, 10th, 2004.
Duration: 2 hours.




                                              50

								
To top