Belgium turns to deportation in the fight against terrorism

The Belgian parliament has introduced a bill that would allow the expulsion of foreigners who pose a threat to national security, even if they hold a residence permit and without a previous criminal sentence.

The proposal comes at a time when Belgium is dealing with Islamic radicals within and targets mainly yihadi returnees. Under the current Law foreigners who reside legally in the country are protected against deportation even when found guilty of a crime.  When it comes to those who acquired Belgian nationality, it can only be withdrawn in certain cases and it is very hard to do so when the person in question was born in Belgium or arrived at a young age.

The significance of this proposal has to be examined under the light of the Belgian legal system, which has traditionally leaned towards protecting the rights of residents and out ruled deportation on the grounds of being a double sanction. If approved, this new Law would tip the balance in favor of national security by significantly reducing the requirements for expulsion and leaving the decision to an administrative body instead of a court.

Allegedly the measures would include denying entry to EU citizens, adding Belgium to the list of EU member countries who are discussing limits on the free movement of persons, one of the cornerstones of the Union.

Examples like the case of French national Salah Abdesman, one of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks who was born in Molenbeek and was known to Belgian police as a petty criminal who became radicalized, have been used to argue in favor of the reform. So far several parties from the governing coalition, including conservatives (MR), Christian democrats (CD&V), and liberals (VLD) along with the Flemish nationalists (N-VA) have expressed their support for the proposal. Opposition has come from the greens (Ecolo) and the left (PS and PTB) who consider the measures do not offer guaranties of proportionality and will not be effective.

The bill has already been approved as a proposal in the Federal Parliament and will be submitted to the final vote after a period for making amendments.