Government invests in real safety culture

19 November 2015

In the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, the federal government has not only increased existing safety measures, but is also working on a large number of new anti-terror measures. They are intended to boost the fight against Muslim extremism and terrorism and greatly increase safety for our citizens. The government is also reserving extra resources for this: 400 million euros, 200 million of which are structural.

There is understandably a lot of concern about fighters coming back from Syria. Therefore, the most notable measures impact those “foreign fighters”. Their prosecution is an absolute priority: upon return to Belgium, they will be put behind bars immediately. Whoever is known to be radicalised and takes an initiative to depart and join IS will have to wear an electronic anklet.

Boost the power of the security services

In order to allow investigations into terrorist offences to be conducted quicker and more efficiently, the government is also increasing the power of the police and intelligence services. They will be able to use more, and more modern, methods and technologies for investigation and the gathering of information. They will also be able to do that more simply. A database will be created with voices of suspects, and there will be extra possibilities for intercepting telephone communication. Searches of premises within the framework of terrorism investigations may from now on be done around the clock. Until now, the police have only been able to do that between 5 am and 9 pm. The police may now detain suspects for three days. This was formerly only 24 hours. This gives detectives more time to collect evidence.

Better collection and exchange of information

As Minister of Security and the Interior Jan Jambon announced earlier, our country is no longer waiting for a European system for exchange of passenger information (PNR), but we will track those ourselves. Registration of data will be done for all flights. In second instance, this will also apply to buses, trains and ships. Tickets must now always specify the name of the traveller specified, and there will be systematic identity checks. All passenger data will be tracked in a central database at the Ministry of the Interior. Based on this, suspect traffic flows can be mapped and potential terrorists can be identified.

In addition to a photograph, the government also wishes to obtain and save biometric data of all suspect persons on the list of the CUTA (Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment). In this way, fingerprints and facial characteristics can be linked to their identity documents. Tracking biometric data is not only important in the fight against terrorism, but also represents a step forward in the fight against identity fraud.

The government is also planning general implementation of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) by the end of next year. This is to allow the police to supervise our entire territory more efficiently around the clock. It will also allow the police to trace vehicles involved in criminal or terrorist activities more quickly.

Structural improvement of Molenbeek

The government has announced a comprehensive plan of action for the Brussels municipality of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, in which there is not only room for repression, but also for prevention. The follow-up policy prioritises tackling the illegal economy, organised crime and radicalism. Local police is also being reinforced for this purpose. At the same time, Minister Jambon aims for cleanliness and tidiness and wishes to improve the general appearance of the area.

State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Theo Francken announced earlier that imams and preachers will be thoroughly checked and followed up. If they are guilty of preaching hatred, they will be expelled without delay.

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