"No-knock raids to check on illegals"

The Immigration Department (DVZ) wants police to be able to carry out house raids without the legal permit issued by a magistrate, when they knock on the door to apprehend illegal immigrants. That's according to a report by De Standaard. The Asylum Secretary Theo Francken (N-VA) is looking into the proposal, but the refugees' umbrella organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen finds it "unacceptable".

When the DVZ is sending out local police officers to apprehend illegal immigrants at their residence, the policemen cannot enter the premises without a legal search warrant. The people may be living there without the legal documents to stay in Belgium, but they can keep their door closed unless police have a legal authorisation, which they often don't have: "Magistrates don't waste their time on that", says DVZ spokesman Geert De Vulder. He says his department wants more powers to be able to apprehend (a) certain person(s) in the house. This should avoid that police officers are being sent to a certain address in vain, and it would allow the DVZ to work faster and more efficiently.

Asylum Secretary has proposal "examined"

Asylum Secretary Theo Francken (Flemish nationalist) will have the proposal examined by a group of experts, but realises that the issue is a very delicate and controversial one. "I understand their request, but there is also privacy legislation and rules concerning family life and private property. We should take into account the basic principles of democracy. "Mr Francken also refers to the European human rights treaty.

"Shocking and unacceptable"

The refugees' umbrella organisation Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen finds the idea "shocking and unacceptable". People without legal documents also have their rights, and these are being violated by this proposal, the organisation argues. "There are some basic rights to be respected, concerning privacy and private property. These apply to all of us", says director Els Keytsman.