Legal framework to avoid the import of political conflicts

24 March 2017
Peter De Roover

The N-VA has readied a bill that obliges foreign heads of state and members of government to make an initial request of the Belgian government for permission, before starting up any political activities on Belgian soil. “Currently there is no Belgian legal framework in this regard,” says the party, which announced the bill a few weeks ago already. Then came the heavy rioting in Rotterdam after the Dutch government refused to allow a few Turkish ministers to make an appearance in the Netherlands in the run-up to a referendum in Turkey.

“There has to be a stop put to foreign political bigwigs coming here to cause a commotion and preaching points of view that constitute a violation of human rights,” the N-VA says. “This bill makes it possible for us to prevent foreign ministers and heads of state from importing - directly or indirectly - their political conflicts, hindering the peaceful coexistence between different demographics in Belgium, and endangering human rights or calling on others to do so.” This would ensure that foreign ministers and heads of state would only be able to come and carry out political campaigns in Belgium with the express permission of the Belgian government.

In line with international law

Today as a mayor you can only prohibit these sorts of campaigns if public order or safety is endangered. However, the Belgian government can indeed already call on international law to deny heads of state and ministers of Foreign Affairs access to the territory. In addition, the German Federal Constitutional Court reiterated in a recent decree that heads of state and members of government do not have a right of access to the territory of other states, but need an explicit or at least implicit permission from the government to do so. “With my legislative proposal I want to clarify that rule,” says the N-VA.

The bill doesn’t just apply to European heads of state and members of government and to foreign MPs: “The former behave in a different manner towards one another, and the latter party can’t be considered as bearing any foreign authority. If you do want to regulate that, then legally speaking you’re on thin ice.”

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