First Flemish municipality votes against home visits

Drogenbos was the first Flemish municipality to vote against a motion that extends powers for police to search for illegal residents in Belgium.

MPs have been debating the bill since the beginning of the month. Under the provisions the Federal government have proposed, police could be entitled to conduct investigations at residents’ homes to check whether illegal residents are still on Belgian territory.

The government since bringing the bill forward has faced much criticism concerning a “lack of humanity”. Members of the Mouvement Réformateur (MR), the PM’s party, have expressed their concerns, as well as lawyers and professors.

The bill has also led several municipalities, both in Brussels and in Wallonia, to vote on motions, asking the Federal parliament not to support the bill. Brussels, Ixelles and Namur have taken that stance.

But so far, no municipality in Flanders, a traditionally more right-wing area, has endorsed such an initiative. The motion raised concerns with Drogenbos municipality on privacy and solidarity. It was voted against by almost of the members of the city council.

I refuse the idea that Drogenbos’ residents are searched because of solidarity, and on the basis of suspicions or denunciation”, Nahyd Meskini, deputy mayor in charge of social and legal affairs, said. He also stressed he aims to spread those motions throughout Flanders. Alexis Calmeyn, the Drogenbos’ mayor, also approved the sentiment, as he is worried about the lack of privacy the residents could face over the upcoming months.

Nothing had been decided yet at the top-level. Charles Michel stated he aims to take time as well as to conduct consultations before making any decision. But if most of the municipalities across Belgium refuse such a bill, it will make it difficult for his government to go forward.