Human Rights League concerned over criminalisation of civil disobedience

The Belgian Human Rights League is sounding the alarm as Belgium's federal parliament prepares to vote on amendments to the Criminal Code, expressing concerns over potential restrictions on freedom of expression and protest. A proposed article on "malicious interference with public authority", in particular, could criminalize certain forms of social and political dissent, the organisation fears.

The issue has sparked widespread debate, with civil society organisations, including the Human Rights League, cautioning against adopting the article. The organisation's concern stems from the broad and vague language of the proposed legislation, which they fear could have far-reaching implications for individual liberties and civil rights.

For the government, the law should be an instrument against "a serious and real threat to national security, public health or morals". The human rights organisation, however, considers it a "dangerous signal to restrict civil disobedience in this way".

"Breaking a law in a public and non-violent manner makes it possible to revive a public debate and thus bring about change"

Moreover, there are fears that such vague legislation could be politically exploited, potentially leading to the criminalization of lawful protests and demonstrations. The Human Rights League emphasizes the crucial role of civil disobedience in challenging government actions that violate the principles of the rule of law.

"Breaking a law in a public and non-violent manner makes it possible to revive a public debate and thus bring about change," says the Human Rights League. "Moreover, civil disobedience is essential when a state violates the principles of the rule of law, as is increasingly the case in Belgium."


The federal parliament in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE


Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels