Posted on March 2, 2006

Four in 10 Detainees are Immigrants

Expatica, Mar. 1, 2006

BRUSSELS — Four of the 10 detainees in Belgian jails are of foreign extraction, Justice Minister Laurette Onkelinx has revealed.

On 26 September 2005, there were 9,083 detainees in Belgium, 5,160 of whom were Belgians. However, more than 40 percent are immigrants.

After Belgian nationals, the largest group of detainees is Moroccan nationals (1,071 or one in 10), followed by Algerians (323), Turkish (250) and Italians (249), newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Wednesday.

Former Yugoslavians also form a large group, but are separated into ethnic origins such as Croatians, Bosnians and Macedonians. Totaled together, there are 233 former Yugoslavians detainees in Belgium.

It is the first time that the Justice Ministry has released such figures and Christian Democrat CD&V Senator Hugo Vandenberghe — who requested the statistics — hopes they will stimulate a more pragmatic debate.

“It is not right [to say] that the presence of foreigners does not give safety problems. Even less so that all foreigners are criminals,” Vandenberghe said.

The Flemish Senator said politicians and policymakers should take statistical facts into account, but stressed that figures had not been forthcoming until now.

Professor Brice De Ruyver, the safety advisory expert for Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, said the high proportion of foreign detainees can be attributed to Belgium’s prosperity, making it an attractive target for criminals.

De Ruyver also said the high proportion of Moroccans and Algerians could be traced back to drugs crimes. Many of the Turkish nationals being detained were also arrested for drugs crimes.