Belgians continue to lose trust in justice system

Confidence in the Belgian justice system has systematically declined, according to the fifth justice barometer of the High Council of Justice (HRJ). A survey of nearly 1,700 Belgians found that those who are less educated or who say they belong to a lower social class tend to trust the system less.

The overall level of trust in the judiciary has dropped from 61 to 54 per cent compared to the previous Justice Barometer in 2014. Less than half of Belgians (48 per cent) say they are satisfied with the way the justice system works, while six out of ten respondents feel that the justice system does not provide enough information about how it works.

Many Belgians also feel that the justice system is not very accessible. Six out of ten feel that access to justice is unaffordable and that legal language is not clear enough. In addition, the latest survey shows that only 46 per cent believe that judicial decisions are fair, the lowest proportion since 2002.

Social class matters

Highly educated people are more likely to trust the justice system than those with low or medium education. Respondents from the upper social classes are also more likely to say they trust the justice system than those from the lower and middle classes.

The survey results do not only show a decline in trust in the justice system. Many Belgians have lost confidence in many other institutions. The police is the only outlier in the survey that has not lost trust recently.

Trust in education fell to 81 per cent, 10 per cent lower than in 2014, while trust in parliament dropped by 20 per cent to 41 per cent. Trust in the press fell to 44 per cent, while only 36 per cent of Belgians trust the government. Religious institutions rank lowest, with only a third of Belgians trusting them.


An empty courtroom at the Justice Palace in Brussels, Wednesday 21 June 2023. © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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