The Federal Government continues to push ahead with tightening security and fighting terrorism
Prime Minister Charles Michel has taken note of the interim report on security architecture drafted by the parliamentary committee responsible for investigating the circumstances leading to the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016.
The Prime Minister hails the vital work that has been done by the members of the majority and the opposition in the committee and by the experts, under the chairmanship of Mr Patrick Dewael, in producing this report after hearing from dozens of witnesses and analysing thousands of pages of documents.
The recent attacks in Manchester, London and Kabul and this Tuesday, 6 June in front of Paris's Notre-Dame Cathedral point to the importance of proactively combating the terrorists and their constantly evolving methods, and of European and international cooperation to take them on, while also showing that their modus operandi is changing all the time.
Since taking office, the Federal Government has made security and the fight against terrorism and radicalism in particular a cornerstone of government policy. The Government introduced a package of 30 counterterrorism measures after the Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher supermarket attacks in January 2015 and the Paris attacks on 13 November 2015.
These measures have meant, for example, the following action has been taken:
- Increasing the financial resources set aside for combating terrorism: In 2015, for instance, the Government used a budgetary provision to invest €200 million in security. In 2016, a provision of €400 million was made available in the initial budget. This provision was retained in 2017 and supplemented by a further €105 million per year following a decision made by the select Council of Ministers for security, justice and defence on 14 May 2017.
- Boosting human resources: An example of action taken in this area is that Belgian State Security has hired 83 members of staff, including 50 inspectors, 10 analysts and 6 liaison officers. The number of managerial staff at the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment (CUTA) has also been increased. In consultation with the Crisis Centre, the Government also decided to deploy soldiers on the streets after the Paris attacks in January 2015 to ensure the security of the general public. At the meeting of the select Council of Ministers, new measures were agreed to further consolidate the powers of the Belgian police, intelligence and security services, as well as the work of the judicial authorities.
- Consolidating the legislation:
Expansion of special investigation methods: Article 90terof the Criminal Procedure Code includes a list of offences for which telephone tapping and special investigation methods are allowed within the limits defined for the various investigative measures.
Introduction into the Criminal Code of a new terrorism offence concerning travel abroad for terrorist purposes
Temporary withdrawal of ID cards of potential 'foreign terrorist fighters'
The tireless work done by the investigation teams and the judicial authorities has resulted in 267 convictions for terrorist offences since 2015. In all, 59 people are currently in police custody in connection with terrorism-related cases.
The Government is committed to pushing ahead with the reforms required to respond to the terrorist threat and ensure the security of the general public.
The Federal Government and the National Security Council will quickly and carefully analyse the parliamentary committee's recommendations. The Federal Government will work with Parliament to consolidate our legislative framework in the areas where this is necessary.