Torture by Authorities in  [Belgium]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Belgium]  [other countries]

Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2018                              

Kingdom of Belgium

With few natural resources, Belgium must import substantial quantities of raw materials and export a large volume of manufactures, making its economy unusually dependent on the state of world markets.

On the positive side, the government succeeded in balancing its budget during the 2000-2008 period, and income distribution is relatively equal.

In 2009 Belgium is likely to have negative growth, growing unemployment, and a 3% budget deficit, stemming from the worldwide banking crisis.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Belgium

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Belgium.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

2017 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 20 April 2018

[accessed 18 February 2020]


On July 13, the CPT formally adopted and released a public statement that noted that for 12 years the CPT had “consistently expressed its deep concern regarding the serious consequences” that can result from strike actions by prison staff in the country. These consequences included continuous confinement of inmates in cells in conditions deemed intolerable, serious disruption in the distribution of meals, dramatic deterioration of personal hygiene conditions and conditions in cells, frequent cancellation of outdoor exercise, serious restrictions on inmate access to health care, and a virtual halt to their contacts with the outside world, including with lawyers. The statement noted that during the 2016 strike, inmates had been “placed in conditions that could amount to inhuman or degrading treatment or lead to the aggravation of conditions already held to be incompatible with… the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 1   Status: Free

2018 Edition

[accessed 18 February 2020]


Although conditions in prisons and detention centers meet most international standards, many facilities continue to suffer from overcrowding. Torture is illegal, though human rights organizations have criticized Belgian authorities for holding prisoners in terrorism cases in prolonged solitary confinement.

23rd General Report of the CPT - European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - 1 August 2012 - 31 July 2013

Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6 November 2013

[accessed 7 Nov 2013]

35. During this first ever visit by the CPT to Forest Prison, the Committee’s delegation observed that some of the establishment’s cells did not have running water or sanitary facilities and that prisoners in other cells had to sleep on mattresses on the floor. The CPT makes a number of recommendations in order to remedy these problems: the setting of a maximum cell occupancy rate and the partitioning of the toilets in C and D wings, the ending of the use of toilet buckets in A and B wings, etc. As well as the difficult material conditions, the Committee expresses concern about the almost complete lack of activities available to prisoners, the length of time that it takes to obtain a “table visit” and the impossibility for prisoners to wear their own clothes (in contravention of the provisions of the “Dupont law”). The CPT also recommends an increase in the staff/inmate ratio – which was low at the time of the visit – and the taking of measures to enable the Psychological/Social Service (SPS) and the Inmate Assistance Service (SAD) to carry out their statutory tasks, even during periods of strike action by prison staff.

Pluto author arrested and tortured in Belgium

Pluto Press, 7 October 2010

[accessed 16 Jan 2014]

[accessed 19 July 2017]

Last Friday, October 1 2010, during the No Border Camp: a convergence of struggles aiming to end the system of borders that divide us all, Marianne Maeckelbergh (US citizen and professor at the University of Leiden, Netherlands), a former Red Pepper worker, current contributor and a long-time global justice activist and the author of The Will of the Many: How the Alterglobalisation Movement Is Changing the Face of Democracy, was arrested for taking pictures while police were making arrests in Brussels, Belgium.

Having just entered Belgium, some two hours earlier, she witnessed violent arrests on the street. When Marianne began taking pictures, she was arrested. She was taken into police custody where she was violently dragged by her hair, chained to a radiator, hit, kicked, spat upon, called a whore, and threatened with sexual assault by the police. She also witnessed the torture of another prisoner also chained to a radiator. 

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/BEL/CO/2 (2009)

[accessed 22 February 2013]

11. While it takes note of the explanations provided by the delegation of Belgium with regard to the independence of Committee P and welcomes the extensive investigations undertaken, the Committee regrets that many of the members of Committee P are police officers and individuals seconded from police services, which raises concerns as to the guarantees of independence to be expected from such an external oversight body, in particular with regard to the handling of complaints concerning police conduct and any disciplinary action taken against police officers.  This problem has grown to the point that Committee P itself, in its annual report for 2006, stated that “police officers seem to receive extremely favorable treatment from the criminal justice system”.  The Committee is likewise concerned at the persistent inconsistencies between complainants’ and police versions of the facts, and in particular that the laying of charges against complainants by the police may in fact be an attempt to cover up unacceptable police conduct (art. 13). 

13. The Committee notes with concern that NGOs continue to submit reports alleging ill-treatment at the hands of the police, including arbitrary arrest, racist insults, refusal to follow up complaints, physical abuse and other inhuman or degrading treatment, in particular in the Bruxelles/Ixelles (5339) and Bruxelles Midi (5341) police districts.  The Committee is also concerned at the increase in the number of complaints of discrimination brought against the law enforcement authorities (art. 16).


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 21 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

There was violence towards Muslims and Jews (see section 2.c.).

A delegation of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visited the country between April 18 and 27. The delegation followed up on a number of issues examined during previous visits, in particular the treatment of persons allegedly deprived of their liberty by the police, the procedure and methods applied during the repatriation of foreign nationals, as well as the conditions in prisons and psychiatric hospitals. The CPT had not released its finding by year's end. The investigation into the 2003 death of a prisoner at Lantin penitentiary continued and was still pending at year's end

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 1   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 21 January 2013]

The judiciary is independent, and the rule of law generally prevails in civil and criminal matters. In July 2004, a UN Human Rights Committee report expressed concerns about a number of human rights abuses, including acts of brutality and racial discrimination by the police. The report also cited the treatment of rejected asylum seekers and illegal immigrants awaiting deportation, who were often held in unsanitary conditions in Brussels national airport, sometimes for several months. The European Court of Human Rights in 2008 ordered Belgium to pay two Palestinian asylum seekers 15,000 Euros each (roughly $22,000) in damages after they were detained in the airport in 2002.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Belgium",, [accessed <date>]



Torture by Authorities in  [Belgium]  [other countries]
Human Trafficking in  [Belgium]  [other countries]