Government introduces 12 anti-terrorist measures

Summary

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

The federal government is working to rush through a series of 12 measures to combat terrorism following the police shooting of two terrorists in Verviers last week. The measures include the deployment of troops on the streets of Brussels and Antwerp to support the police, following information that the Verviers terrorist cell planned imminent attacks on police stations.

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

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Belgian government

Belgium is a federal state made up of three regions and three communities, based on language (Dutch, French and German). The federal level is responsible for issues such as justice, defence, finances and foreign affairs – matters that affect the entire country. Belgium is also a constitutional monarchy.
Regions - The regions are comparable to American states or German Länder. They are geographical entities, responsible for matters related to their territory, such as public works, environment and economy. Belgium’s three regions are the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region.
Communities - Communities are responsible for matters that directly affect residents, such as education, welfare and culture. Belgium’s three communities are the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German Community.
Flanders - Although regions and communities do not overlap exactly, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community have merged into the Flemish government. Its official language is Dutch. The Flemish Parliament sits in Brussels, which is the official capital city of Flanders (as well as Belgium).
11

population of Belgium in millions of people, with 6.2 million living in Flanders.

6

number of state reforms that have resulted in the federal system as it is today.

4

number of years for which the federal House of Representatives and the Senate are elected.