Rabat – A new migrant polemic is rising in Belgium.
On Thursday, a draft law against terrorism was adopted by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives. One of its chapters is sparking controversy, as it provides for the possibility of deporting foreigners born in Belgium or arriving before the age of twelve.
Belgian newspaper, Le Soir, reported that the Chamber approved two bills on Thursday setting up a new framework for the deportation of foreigners who are legal Belgium residents. This bill, which worries a majority of the opposition, was issued by the Government for the sake of the protection of public order and national security.
“The people concerned with this bill will not necessarily have been convicted by a Belgian court, even though they have spent jail time for particularly serious criminal acts,” said the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, on Thursday.
Foreigners born in or having entered Belgium before the age of twelve were protected by a law dating from 2005, even in the case of criminal convictions. Belgium Justice felt that exile would have constituted a double sentence to them.
Apparently, things have changed with the imminent threat of terrorism. According to the federal government, the bill was mainly implemented because of concerns over 70 specific people. 20 in this group had committed acts of terrorism, the rest brigandage.
This issue has caused major conflict among Belgian Representatives, who divided into two opposing camps; the majority, who believe that this measure will improve the effectiveness of referrals and the fight against terrorism, and the opposition who wonder how deporting a terrorist from Belgium will make the county safer.
Benoît Hellings, MP of the Ecolo party, made an example of Salah Abdeslam: “being French, we would have had to send him back to France, which would not have prevented him from participating in the Paris attacks!”
Salah Abdeslam is, apparently, the main cause of this controversial bill. Abdeslam is a Belgium-born French national of Moroccan descent. He was accused of being involved in the attacks in Paris on 13 November 2015, in which 130 people were killed and 368 others were injured.
Abdeslam could not have been deported from Belgium until he was transferred to a French prison, Le Soir notes. Now any individual presenting “a threat to public order or national security” may be exiled.