BELGIUM
Kingdom of Belgium
Royaume de Belgique/Koninkrijk Belgie
Joined United Nations:  27 December 1945
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
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Updated 05 February 2013
CAPITAL
POPULATION
CHIEF OF STATE
SELECTION PROCESS
Brussels
10,438,353 (July 2012 est.)
Elio Di Rupo
Prime Minister since 6 December 2011
The monarchy as well as the heir apparent is hereditary and
constitutional

Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
SELECTION PROCESS
The monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following
legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader
of the majority coalition usually appointed prime minister by the
monarch and then approved by parliament
, Election last held: 13
June 2010

Next scheduled election: June 2014
DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
ETHNIC GROUPS
Fleming 58%, Walloon 31%, mixed or other 11%
RELIGIONS
Roman Catholic 75%, other (includes Protestant) 25%
GOVERNMENT
STRUCTURE
Federal parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy with 10 provinces (French: provinces, singular - province; Dutch:
provincies, singular - provincie) and 3 regions (French: regions; Dutch: gewesten); Legal system is based on civil law system
influenced by English constitutional theory; judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
Executive: The monarchy is hereditary and constitutional; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the
leader of the majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the monarch and then approved by parliament; elections: last
held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014)
Legislative: Bicameral Parliament consists of a Senate or Senaat in Dutch, Senat in French (71 seats; 40 members directly elected
by popular vote, 31 indirectly elected; members serve four-year terms) and a Chamber of Deputies or Kamer van
Volksvertegenwoordigers in Dutch, Chambre des Representants in French (150 seats; members directly elected by popular vote on
the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate and Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 June 2010 (next to be held no later than June 2014)
Judicial: Supreme Court of Justice or Hof van Cassatie (in Dutch) or Cour de Cassation (in French) (judges are appointed for life
by the government; candidacies have to be submitted by the High Justice Council)
LANGUAGES
Dutch (official) 60%, French (official) 40%, German (official) less than 1%, legally bilingual (Dutch and French)
BRIEF HISTORY
The oldest primitive stone instruments found on the area of today's Belgium date 800,000 BC. Circa 400,000 BC, Neanderthals
are claimed to be living on the edge of the Meuse river, near the village of Spy. From 30,000 BC onwards the inhabitants were
Homo sapiens. Neolithic remains can be found today at Spiennes where there was a flint mine. The first signs of Bronze age activity
in Belgium date from around 1750 BC. From 500 BC Celtic tribes settled in the region and traded with the Mediterranean world.
From c. 150 BC, the first coins came into use. The earliest named inhabitants of Belgium were the Belgae (after whom modern
Belgium is named). In 54 BC, the Belgae were over-run by the armies of Julius Caesar, as described in his chronicle De Bello
Gallico. What is now Belgium flourished as a province of Rome. After the Roman Empire collapsed (5th century), Germanic tribes
invaded the Roman province of "Gallia". One of these peoples, the Franks, eventually managed to install a new kingdom under the
rule of the Merovingian Dynasty. Clovis I was the best-known king of this dynasty. He ruled from his base in northern France, but
his empire included today's Belgium. He converted to Christianity. The Merovingians were short-lived and were succeeded by the
Carolingian Dynasty. After Charles Martel countered the Moorish invasion from Spain (732 - Poitiers), the King Charlemagne
(born close to Liège in Herstal or Jupille) brought a huge part of Europe under his rule and was crowned the "Emperor of the Holy
Roman Empire" by the Pope Leo III (800 in Aachen). The Vikings were defeated in 891 by Arnulf of Carinthia near Leuven. The
Frankish lands were divided and reunified several times under the Merovingian and Carolingian dynasties, but eventually were firmly
divided into France and the Holy Roman Empire. The parts of the County of Flanders stretching out west of the river Scheldt
(Schelde in Dutch, Escaut in French) became part of France during the Middle Ages, but the remainders of the County of Flanders
and the Low Countries were part of the Holy Roman Empire. As the Holy Roman Emperors lost effective control of their domains
in the 11th and 12th centuries, the territory more or less corresponding to the present Belgium was divided into mostly independent
feudal states. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Rheno-Mosan or Mosan art movement flourished in the region moving its
centre from Cologne and Trier to Liège, Maastricht and Aachen. By 1433 most of the Belgian and Luxembourgian territory along
with much of the rest of the Low Countries became part of Burgundy under Philip the Good. When Mary of Burgundy,
granddaughter of Philip the Good married Maximilian I, the Low Countries became Habsburg territory. Especially during the
Burgundy period (the 15th and 16th centuries), Ypres, Ghent, Bruges, Brussels, and Antwerp took turns at being major European
centers for commerce, industry (especially textiles) and art. The Pragmatic Sanction of 1549, issued by Charles V, established the
Seventeen Provinces (or Spanish Netherlands in its broad sense) as an entity separate from the Empire and from France. This
comprised all of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg except for the lands of the Bishopric of Liège. When Philip II, son of
Charles ascended the Spanish throne, he tried to abolish all Protestantism. Portions of the Netherlands revolted, beginning the
Eighty Years' War between the Netherlands and Spain. For the conquered Southern Netherlands the war ended in 1585 with the
Fall of Antwerp. This can be seen as the start of Belgium as one region. While the United Provinces gained independence, the
Southern Netherlands remained under the rule of the Spanish Hapsburgs (1519-1713). Until 1581 the history of Belgium (except
the Bishopric of Liège), the grand duchy of Luxembourg and the country the Netherlands is the same: they formed the
country/region of the Netherlands or the Low Countries. The Belgian and Luxemburgian territories except the Bishopric of Liège
were transferred to the Austrian Hapsburgs (1713-1794) after the War of the Spanish Succession when the French Bourbon
Dynasty inherited Spain at the price of abandoning many Spanish possessions. Following the Campaigns of 1794 of the French
Revolutionary Wars the Southern Netherlands were invaded and annexed by the First French Republic in 1795, they were divided
into nine united départements and became an integral part of France. The Bishopric of Liège was dissolved. Its territory was divided
over the départements Meuse-Inférieure and Ourte. Austria confirmed the loss of the Austrian Netherlands by the Treaty of Campo
Formio, in 1797. After Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, the major victorious powers (Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia)
agreed at Congress of Vienna on reuniting the former Austrian Netherlands and the former Dutch Republic, creating the United
Kingdom of the Netherlands, which was to serve as a buffer state against any future French invasions. In August 1830, stirred by a
performance of Auber's La Muette de Portici at the Brussels opera house La Monnaie (Dutch: De Munt), the Belgian Revolution
broke out, and the country wrested its independence from the Dutch, aided by French intellectuals and French armed forces.
Among the revolutionaries, there was an idea to rejoin France, but after international pressure, Belgium became an independent
state. A constitutional monarchy was established in 1831, with a monarch invited in from the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in
Germany by the British. The major powers in Europe agreed, and on July 21 1831, the first king of Belgium, Leopold of Saxe-
Coburg was inaugurated. This day is still the Belgian national holiday. The Netherlands still fought on for 8 years, but in 1839 a
treaty was signed between the two countries. At the Berlin conference of 1884-1885 the Congo was attributed solely to Leopold II
of Belgium, who named the territory the Congo Free State. Power was finally transferred to Belgium in 1908 under considerable
international pressure following numerous reports of gross misconduct and abuse to native labourers. The neutrality of Belgium was
violated in 1914 when Germany invaded Belgium as part of the Schlieffen Plan. The Germans were stopped by the Allies at the
front-line along the Yser, the battle of the Yser. King Albert I stayed in Belgium with his troops to lead the army while the
government withdrew to Le Havre, France. Belgium did not receive the war reparations that she was to receive from Germany. This
had a significant effect on the Belgium economy, which, like the economies of many countries involved in World War One, had been
bankrupted by the war. After the defeat of Germany, the two former German colonies, Rwanda and Burundi, were mandated to
Belgium by the League of Nations. After a period of alliance with France, Belgium tried to return to neutrality in the 1930s. Nazi
Germany invaded Belgium 10 May 1940 (Belgium surrendered on May 28). The King remained in Belgium. Belgium was liberated
beginning in 1944 by Allied forces, including British, Canadian, and American armies, including a small Belgian national contingent.
During the war, the largest known reserves of uranium were in the Katanga (a province of the Belgian Congo). The Belgian
company Union Minière du Haut Katanga provided the United States the uranium required by the Manhattan Project and the early
cold war. A dispute over King Léopold III's conduct during World War II caused civil uprisings, and eventually led to his
abdication in 1951 following a statewide referendum. The Congo became independent in 1960. Belgium played in this crisis an
ambiguous role which led to the murder of Patrice Lumumba and to the establishment of Zaire. The fourth state reform, which took
place in 1993 under Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, consolidated the previous state reforms and turned Belgium into a fully-
fledged federal state. The first article of the Belgian Constitution was amended to read as follows, “Belgium is a Federal State which
consists of Communities and Regions”. On January 30, 2003, Belgium became the second country in the world to legally recognize
same-sex marriage. However, this law did not permit adoption by same-sex partners; and as birth within a same-sex marriage did
not imply affiliation, the same-sex spouse of the biological parent had no way to become the legal parent. On December 1, 2005, a
controversial proposal of the SP.A to permit adoption was approved by the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, thereby enabling
legal co-parenting by same-sex couples.
In 2006, the Christian-Democratic and Flemish proposed a reconsideration of the phase
out. The 2010 Belgian general election produced a highly fragmented political landscape, with 11 parties elected to the Chamber of
Representatives, none of which had more than 20% of the seats. The separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the largest party in
Flanders and the country as a whole, controlled 27 of 150 seats in the lower chamber. The Francophone Socialist Party (PS), the
largest party in Wallonia, controlled 26 seats. Belgium beat the world record for time taken to form a new democratic government
after an election, at 353 days. Finally a government coalition was sworn in on 6 December 2011, with Socialist Elio Di Rupo
becoming Prime Minister of the Di Rupo Government.

Source: Wikipedia: History of Belgium
ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
This modern, open, and private-enterprise-based economy has capitalized on its central geographic location, highly developed
transport network, and diversified industrial and commercial base. Industry is concentrated mainly in the more heavily-populated
region of Flanders in the north. With few natural resources, Belgium imports substantial quantities of raw materials and exports a
large volume of manufactures, making its economy vulnerable to volatility in world markets. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium's
trade is with other EU countries, and Belgium has benefited most from its proximity to Germany. In 2011 Belgian GDP grew by
1.8%, the unemployment rate decreased slightly to 7.2% from 8.3% the previous year, and the government reduced the budget
deficit from a peak of 6% of GDP in 2009 to 4.2% in 2011 and 3.3% in 2012. Despite the relative improvement in Belgium's
budget deficit, public debt hovers around 100% of GDP, a factor that has contributed to investor perceptions that the country is
increasingly vulnerable to spillover from the euro-zone crisis. Belgian banks were severely affected by the international financial crisis
in 2008 with three major banks receiving capital injections from the government, and the nationalization of the Belgian retail arm of a
Franco-Belgian bank.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Belgium)
POLITICAL CLIMATE
The current king, Albert II, succeeded King Baudouin I in 1993. Since 1999, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt from the VLD has
led a six-party Liberal-Social Democrat-Greens coalition, often referred to as 'the rainbow government'. This was the first
government without the Christian Democrats since 1958. In the 2003 elections, Verhofstadt won a second term in office and has
led a Liberal-Social Democrat coalition of four parties. In recent years, there has also been a steady rise of the Flemish far right
nationalist separatist party Vlaams Blok, meanwhile superseded by Vlaams Belang amidst allegations of racism promoted by the
party.

A significant achievement of the two successive Verhofstadt governments has been the achievement of a balanced budget; Belgium
is one of the few member-states of the EU to have done so (largely thanks to the consensus on this priority among the Flemish
parties, the skills of the successive ministers of finance including Philippe Maystadt and Didier Reynders and the very good
budgetary performance of the Flemish government). This policy was applied by the successive governments during the 1990s under
pressure from the European Council. The fall of the previous government was mainly due to the dioxin crisis, a major food
intoxication scandal in 1999 that led to the establishment of the Belgian Food Agency. This event resulted in an atypically large
representation by the Greens in parliament, and a greater emphasis on environmental politics during the first Verhofstadt
government. One Green policy, for example, resulted in nuclear phase-out legislation, which has been modified by the current
government. The absence of Christian Democrats from the ranks of the government has enabled Verhofstadt to tackle social issues
from a more liberal point of view and to develop new legislation on the use of soft drugs, same-sex marriage and euthanasia. During
the two most recent parliaments, the government has promoted active diplomacy in Africa, opposed a military intervention during
the Iraq disarmament crisis, and has passed legislation concerning war crimes. Both of Verhofstadt's terms have been marked by
disputes between the Belgian communities. The major points of contention are the overly complicated institutional arrangements, the
lack of fiscal and financial autonomy for the regional and community governments, nocturnal air traffic routes at Brussels Airport, the
status of the electoral district of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde.

The 2010 Belgian general election produced a highly fragmented political landscape, with 11 parties elected to the Chamber of
Representatives, none of which had more than 20% of the seats. The separatist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the largest party in
Flanders and the country as a whole, controlled 27 of 150 seats in the lower chamber. The Francophone Socialist Party (PS), the
largest party in Wallonia, controlled 26 seats. Belgium beat the world record for time taken to form a new democratic government
after an election, at 353 days. Finally a government coalition was sworn in on 6 December 2011, with Socialist Elio Di Rupo
becoming Prime Minister of the Di Rupo Government.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Belgium
INTERNATIONAL
DISPUTES
None reported.
U.S. State Department
United Nations Human
Rights Council
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
Freedom House
REFUGEES AND
INTERNALLY
DISPLACED PERSONS
(IDPS)
None reported.
ILLICIT DRUGS
Growing producer of synthetic drugs and cannabis; transit point for US-bound ecstasy; source of precursor chemicals for South
American cocaine processors; transshipment point for cocaine, heroin, hashish, and marijuana entering Western Europe; despite
a strengthening of legislation, the country remains vulnerable to money laundering related to narcotics, automobiles, alcohol, and
tobacco; significant domestic consumption of ecstasy.
Centre for Equal Opportunity
and Opposition to Racism
U. S. STATE
DEPARTMENT
HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
2011 Human Rights Report: Belgium
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
20
11 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May
25, 2012

The Kingdom of Belgium is a parliamentary democracy and a limited constitutional monarchy. The country is a federal state with several
levels of government: national, regional (Flanders, Wallonia, and Brussels), language community (Flemish, French, and German),
provincial, and local. The Federal Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister, remains in office as long as it retains the
confidence of the lower house (Chamber of Representatives) of the bicameral parliament. Federal parliamentary elections held in 2010
were considered free and fair. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.

The main human rights problems in Belgium were significant overcrowding of the prisons and discrimination against racial and religious
minorities in the labor market. In July the ban against the wearing of full-face veils in public places (commonly referred to as the “burqa
ban”) went into effect nationwide.

Other human rights problems included violence against women, child abuse, and trafficking in persons.

Belgium actively prosecuted and punished officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in the
government, and no cases of impunity were reported.
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UNITED NATIONS
HUMAN RIGHTS
COUNCIL
TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Committee for Human Rights
Hundredth Session
Geneva, 11-29 October 2010

Introduction
2. The Committee welcomes the fifth periodic report of Belgium, and welcomes the dialogue held with the delegation of the State Party.
It commends the State party had submitted in advance of the written replies to the list of items that had been addressed
(CCPR/C/BEL/Q/5/Add.1), and the Delegation for detailed additional information it provided orally during the review report and for
additional written information.

Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the ratification of the following instruments or accession to these instruments:
(A) The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Protocol, July 2, 2009;
(B) The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, June 14, 2004;
(C) The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale, prostitution and child pornography of children,
August 11, 2004;
(D) The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, Especially Women and Children, November 17, 2005.

C. Concerns and recommendations
5. The Committee takes note of information and initiatives taken by the State party's implementation of its findings in the case of Nabil
Sayadi and Patricia Vinck (CCPR/C/D/1472/2006). He regretted, however, that the State party has not been able to inform about the
possibility of granting compensation to Nabil Sayadi and Patricia Vinck, and the Committee had requested.
The State party should consider the possibility of granting compensation to the applicants Nabil Sayadi and Patricia Vinck.
6. The Committee regrets the absence from the State Party to support a mechanism to implement the findings of the Committee (art. 2).
The State party should consider establishing a mechanism responsible for implementing the Committee's Views.
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FREEDOM HOUSE
Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Status: Free

Overview
After more than 500 days of negotiations following June 2010 parliamentary elections, a new Belgian government was formed in early
December 2011. Elio Di Rupo took office as the first French-speaking prime minister from Wallonia in almost 40 years. Two women
were arrested in July for wearing burqas after a ban on the partial or total covering of the face in public came into force earlier that
month.


In February 2008, a majority of political parties agreed on an outline for limited constitutional reform, which cleared the way for Leterme
to become prime minister the following month. He was unable to consolidate support after taking office, however, and lawmakers began
to leave the ruling coalition during the fall. Leterme’s government was ultimately brought down at the end of the year after being accused
of interfering in a court case concerning the failed bank Fortis. The prime minister offered his resignation, and on December 30 the king
swore in Herman Van Rompuy, also of the CD&V, to replace him.

Van Rompuy was credited with calming the recent political instability, and partly as a result of this success, he was appointed as the first
permanent president of the European Council, the EU’s intergovernmental decision-making body, in November 2009. Leterme returned
to replace Van Rompuy as prime minister. However, his government fell in April 2010 when its coalition partner, the Flemish Liberals
and Democrats (VLD), pulled out; the coalition had disagreed on proposed changes to voting rules in the district encompassing Brussels.

In national elections held in June 2010, the N-VA led with 27 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Francophone Socialist Party (PS)
placed second with 26 seats. Coalition negotiations again stalled over a series of issues linked to the balance of power between Flanders
and Wallonia. The Leterme government remained in place for most of 2011 in a caretaker capacity. In September, the Dutch and
Francophone parties reached a compromise on the fate of a contentious electoral district outside Brussels, and a final agreement was
reached at the end of November. The development appeared to be prompted by the Standard & Poors downgrade of Belgium’s credit
rating on November 25 as well as warnings from the EU because the country had failed to meet its fiscal targets: the caretaker
government was unable to pass a budget necessary to reduce the deficit. The new government, which notably does not include the N-
VA, is led by Elio Di Rupo of the PS, the first French-speaking prime minister in more than 30 years; it took over from the caretaker
government in December.

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AMNESTY
INTERNATIONAL
Belgium: Submission to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance on Belgium
1 January 2013

INTRODUCTION

Amnesty International submits this contribution to the European Commission against Racism
and Intolerance (ECRI) on the occasion of
its fifth cycle country monitoring that includes the
Kingdom of Belgium.

Amnesty International welcomes that Belgium has requested ECRI to evaluate the situation experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in
Belgium. Amnesty International believes that ECRI has a crucial role to play in combating
discrimination against LGBTI people in Europe.

This submission specifically focuses on violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief in Belgium and discrimination experienced
by religious minorities, in particular Muslims, on
the ground of religion or belief. Such issues have been the focus of a field research
undertaken by Amnesty International in several countries including Belgium in 2011 and
2012. Furthermore, it includes recommendations
pertaining to discrimination and violence
experienced by LGBTI individuals.

EXISTENCE AND IMPLEMENTATION OF LEGAL PROVISIONS
A. REGIONAL LEGAL INSTRUMENTS

Belgium has yet to implement some of the recommendations put forward by ECRI on the occasion of the fourth monitoring cycle in
2009. 1Belgium has neither ratified Protocol 12 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental
Freedoms (Paragraph 2 of the 2009 report) nor signed the United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant
Workers and Members of their Families (Paragraph 9). Moreover, Belgium has not ratified the Council of Europe Convention on
Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

Amnesty International calls on Belgium to sign and ratify these treaties without further delays.

B. LEGISLATION AIMED AT COMBATING DISCRIMINATION
On 10 May 2007 Belgium adopted two laws aimed at combating discrimination on the ground of sex2 and on other grounds including
sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and disability.3 Another law already in force since 1981 aims at tackling discrimination on
grounds of race and ethnicity.4

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HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Belgium: Abused Migrant Women Fear Deportation
Legal Loopholes, Inadequate Shelter Access Send Women Back to Abusers
November 8, 2012

(Brussels) – The risk of deportation prevents many migrant women who experience domestic violence in Belgium from getting the
protection they need, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The report was released in advance of Women’s Day in
Belgium, November 11, 2012.

The 57-page report, “‘The Law was Against Me’: Migrant Women’s Access to Protection for Family Violence in Belgium,” found three
major protection gaps for migrant women who experience domestic violence in that country. Women who migrate to Belgium to join a
husband or partner may face deportation if they report the violence during the period when their status is being confirmed, as do
undocumented migrant women. And domestic violence victims, especially undocumented women, lack adequate access to shelters.

“The women we interviewed face a terrible choice: endure abuse at the hands of a partner, or report the violence and risk deportation,”
said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Belgium needs to make sure that every woman who experiences
domestic violence can get the help she needs, regardless of migrant status.”

Belgium has passed laws and adopted policies to prevent, investigate, and prosecute domestic violence and protect victims, including a
National Action Plan. But it has yet to fully address the gaps for migrant women, Human Rights Watch found. Belgium recently signed,
but has yet to ratify, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence,
which requires countries to ensure protection irrespective of migrant status.

A law designed to permit women who migrate to Belgium to join a husband or partner to remain in the country does not protect women
if they leave their abuser while their application for family migration is being processed, if they leave him without first telling the
authorities, or if the partner leaves Belgium. Proving violence and meeting income requirements are also impediments, Human Rights
Watch found.

Gökce, a Turkish woman with a 12-year-old son, who is also a Turkish national, fled her abusive husband but later felt compelled to
return to him until her legal status was secure, her sister-in-law told Human Rights Watch.

Undocumented women are particularly vulnerable. Unauthorized stay in Belgium is a criminal offense and police are required to report
anyone who they suspect is in the country illegally to immigration authorities. Women who do come forward have few avenues to
obtaining legal status, especially if they do not have children. Ngalla, a 35-year-old undocumented woman from Cameroon, endured
seven years of abuse at the hands of her husband, coming forward only when she obtained permanent residence through her Belgian
children.
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OFFICIAL
GOVERNMENT HUMAN
RIGHTS STATEMENT
27 January: International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust
25 January 2013

Sunday, 27 January is the date set for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. In its present
capacity as holder of the Presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, Belgium specifically intends to comply with
the duty to honour the memory of the victims of this cruel genocide. The United Nations has chosen for this year's observance of the
Day of Commemoration the theme of Rescue during the Holocaust: the courage to care.

Sunday, 27 January will mark 68 years to the very day that the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp was liberated. As a symbol of
the Holocaust, this camp and so many others was the scene of several million appalling deaths. No less than six million Jews along with
Roma, Sinti, political prisoners and homosexuals were systematically persecuted, brutalised and murdered. This Day of Commemoration
in memory of the victims of the Holocaust is also intended to pay tribute to the memory transmitted by the survivors. These people play
a key role in educating new generations in order to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive. Their stories must live on during the
commemorations in order to encourage people to remember and to prevent the suffering of millions of men, women and children from
becoming trivialised.

Pursuant to resolution 60/7 on Holocaust remembrance, adopted on 1 November 2005, the United Nations General Assembly decided to
designate 27 January of each year as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. The Belgian
Federal Authorities are fully engaged in this day of remembrance, which is acknowledged as being an important reminder of the universal
lessons of the Holocaust and respect for the human rights of all people, irrespective of race, sex, language or religion. In March 2012
Belgium began its 12-month term presiding over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organisation
whose members are committed to the principles set out in the Stockholm Declaration. The Belgian Presidency has turned the
international spotlight on the policies being undertaken by the federal authorities and the federated entities to facilitate remembrance,
education and research focused on the Holocaust, the promotion of human rights and combating any form of racism and anti-Semitism.

The awful experience of the Holocaust has also taught us that even during the darkest periods of our history, men and women in
Belgium and many other countries found the courage not to remain indifferent to the injustice inflicted upon their fellow citizens. They
bravely risked their own lives to save many children, women and men. These righteous people and these saviours had no intention of
acting like heroes. They were simply doing what they thought was perfectly normal: helping and saving their fellow citizens.
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LE MEDIATEUR
FEDERAL/  FEDERAL
OMBUDSMAN
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Voting abroad is simpler
16/07/2012

Due to the very short preparation time for early elections and the procedure provided for in the Electoral Code was the participation of
many Belgians abroad an almost impossible task.

Early elections: no chance to vote

Some Belgians living abroad could not participate in the election of June 2010 and contacted the Federal Ombudsman. They could not
timely register on the electoral roll, were not informed in time about the procedure or received their ballot too late.

The Federal Ombudsman has recommended the procedure to adjust the Electoral Code so that for Belgians abroad mood problems may
expire in early elections. The Parliament has just the Electoral Code changed in that sense.

Simplified procedure for expats

Henceforth Belgians living abroad is only once required to register as a voter at the time of their registration in the population registers of
the embassy or consulate.

The Electoral Code and not the expat itself now provides the attachment to a Belgian municipality. The municipality where it was last
registered in the population register has priority.

The procedures and the conduct of the vote count and improved. Voters are also encouraged not to vote by correspondence but through
other, safer and quicker channels.
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CENTRE FOR EQUAL
OPPORTUNITY AND
OPPOSITION TO
RACISM BELGIUM
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Interfederal action plan against homophobic and transphobic violence
01/02/2013

The federal government and the federated entities yesterday presented a plan of joint action to prevent and better combat violence against
homosexual persons and transgender. Coordinated by the Minister of Interior and Equal Opportunities Joëlle Milquet, this plan is built
around six priorities that range from improving prevention to strengthen legislation antidiscriminatio n, better monitoring and prosecution.

Institutional actors responsible for implementation are the respective functional administrations and soon interfederal two organizations:
the Centre for Equal Opportunities and the Fight against Racism and the Institute for the equality of women and men.
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Report
Albert II
King since 9 August 1993
Phillipe
Prince and Heir Apparent
since 9 August 1993
TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS
None reported.
Alexander De Croo
Deputy Prime Minister
since 22 October 2012