Government introduces 12 anti-terrorist measures
The federal government is fast-tracking a series of measures to combat terrorism, from the ability to revoke passports to monitoring of Facebook posts
Measures criticised by opposition
Federal justice minister Koen Geens (pictured) also wants the state to have additional power to revoke Belgian passports and residence permits from people who are seen as a threat to security.
Those imprisoned on terrorism charges will also be prevented from gathering with other inmates to prevent them spreading radical ideas, Geens announced. They will also receive extra monitoring and specialised counselling.
The government also wants to make inroads into privacy legislation to allow security services to monitor phone conversations and tap into Facebook posts, according to federal privacy minister Bart Tommelein. “We want to maintain the right to privacy, but we also have to respect citizens’ right to safety,” he said.
The government has added several new categories to the list of terrorist offences and adjusted legislation to make it easier to deal with terrorists in court. Interior minister Jan Jambon is also putting pressure on US-based internet giants such as YouTube, Google and Microsoft to prevent the spread of extremist propaganda and hate speech.
Several opposition politicians have criticised the measures, which they see as too extreme. Flemish socialist leader Bruno Tobback argued that “it is wrong to answer extremism with extremism. … We have to be absolutely clear that the use of the military as well as the limiting of privacy and basic rights would only be temporary. The government has to make that clear because if they don’t, then they have allowed the terrorists to change our society.”
Photo by Francois Lenoir/Reuters/Corbis
population of Belgium in millions of people, with 6.2 million living in Flanders.
number of state reforms that have resulted in the federal system as it is today.
number of years for which the federal House of Representatives and the Senate are elected.