King Filip criticised for pardons to traffic offenders

Summary

Politicians and road safety organisations are criticising the news that King Filip has pardoned traffic offenders in response to applications forwarded by the federal justice department

Justice department calls an end to pardons until elections

King Filip has apologised to the families of traffic accident victims after it was revealed that he had granted a royal pardon to several traffic offenders, leading to reduced fines. The TV programme Royalty reported last week that the king had used his royal power to pardon 11 offenders, most of them guilty of driving offences.

The king was criticised by several road safety organisations, including the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (BIVV) and Parents of Children Killed in Road Accidents. Karin Genoe of BIVV said that the royal pardons “undermined the work we have done to improve road safety”. Flemish transport minister Hilde Crevits told Radio 1 that she felt sympathy with road accident victims and wanted more clarity on the decision that was made. 

Although none of the offenders whose fines were reducted caused accidents involving victims, the revelation sparked debate in the federal parliament on the abolition of royal pardons. N-VA and Open VLD consider it an anachronism. Theo Francken of N-VA called it “a custom dating from the middle ages or the Roman Empire when the emperor could decide a person’s fate by raising or lowering his thumb”.

The decision to turn applications for pardon over to the king, however, is made by the federal justice department and has mainly been granted to prisoners suffering from serious illnesses to help reduce the prison population. Justice minister Annemie Turtelboom announced that no more pardons will be granted before the elections next May.         

King Filip apologises to families of road traffic victims after getting flack for pardons to traffic offenders.

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Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year