Judges’ speeches anger minister

The Justice Minister in Belgium’s caretaker federal government Stefaan De Clerck (Flemish Christian democrat, photo) has responded with displeasure to speeches made by a number of Antwerp’s top judges at a ceremony to mark the start of the new judicial year on Thursday. The judges called Belgium’s current asylum and migration policy “a danger for democracy”.

At courthouses across Belgium, leading members of the judiciary made speeches to mark the start of the new judicial year.

It was also an opportunity for newly qualified lawyers to be sworn in.

Most speeches raised little or no controversy.

However, this was not the case in Antwerp, where a full-frontal attack was launched on Belgian Government policy on asylum and migration over the past few years.

"Politicians have neglected the migration problem for years. In so doing the political parties are leading us towards the demise of our democracy.”

"Thousands of loopholes in the law make it possible to drain the state dry to the disadvantage of every citizen”, Antwerp’s Advocate-General Piet Van Den Bon said.

"The disproportionate influx of foreigners and the fumbling reaction to it has led to an enormous waste of benefits and social assistance.”

Speaking in an interview with the daily ‘De Morgen’ Mr Van Den Bon differentiates between “blatant social fraud” and “the improper use of the social security system."

"The latter has been made possible by the law itself”, he told the paper.

The Antwerp judges call on politician to take urgent action to rectify the situation as “Current migration policy is a threat to our democracy.”

“This is inappropriate”

The Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Melchior Wathelet (Francophone Christian democrat) says that the judge’s criticism is directed at policy on the rules governing local social services councils and this is the responsibility of the Francophone socialist Philippe Courard.

The Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck has issued an angry response.

"Politically-charged statements such as the “end of democracy” are inappropriate coming from an Advocate-General.