Belgium is honouring its obligations to the Council of Europe overall, and has made welcome efforts to build a political consensus on a more efficient federal state and greater autonomy for federal entities, but further steps are necessary “based on co-operation and cohabitation between communities”, according to a new evaluation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
As part of a “periodic review”, carried out on groups of countries every four years and drawing on information from various monitoring mechanisms, the Assembly was assessing how far Belgium complies with its statutory obligations as a member of the 47-nation human rights watchdog.(*)
In a resolution, the parliamentarians also expressed concern at structural problems related to prison conditions and prison overcrowding, as well as the situation of mentally ill prisoners. They urged the Belgian authorities to “fully address the issue of detention of refugees and asylum seekers, and the lack of access to reception centres”.
Finally, the Assembly encouraged Belgium to sign up to Council of Europe conventions or protocols to combat discrimination, domestic violence and outlaw online racism.
(*) The procedure currently applies to 34 of the Council’s 47 member states, the remaining 13 being subject to either a full monitoring procedure or “post-monitoring dialogue”.