Willebroek’s curfew meets broad political resistance (Willebroek)

Willebroek’s curfew meets broad political resistance (Willebroek)
Willebroek’s curfew meets broad political resistance (Willebroek)

The curfew introduced by Willebroek for nuisance caused by young people met with widespread political protest. Including from Open VLD and CD&V, coalition partners of the Willebroekse N-VA mayor.

Since this weekend, there is a curfew in the center of Willebroek at 10 pm, a ban on gathering together for more than two people and a mandatory closure for shopkeepers at 6 pm. The reason is not the fight against corona, but young people making amok.

Eddy Bevers (N-VA), the mayor of Willebroek, defends the measure. ‘By my oath I swore to keep my citizens safe. And for that I go to the limit, if necessary. If we hadn’t taken these measures, this would almost have become a war zone. ‘

‘Classic example of a slippery slope’

But there is a lot of criticism. This is a classic example of a slippery slope, says professor of constitutional law Stefan Sottiaux (KU Leuven) in this newspaper. “What first emerged in the fight against corona is now simply applied as an ordinary measure to maintain order.”

“Once allowed for exceptional measures, no matter how well-intentioned, they will remain there like a loaded revolver for any trigger-happy cowboy mayor or governor with less good intentions or scruples.”

‘Completely unconstitutional’, said Kati Verstrepen, chairman of the League for Human Rights, this morning on Radio 1. ‘Why stop there?’,

economist Ive Marx (UAntwerp). “You could immediately put some people in pre-trial detention.” Professors of public law Hendrik Vuye and Jogchum Vrielink are also critical.

CD&V and Open VLD

But there are also indignant reactions from political circles. And striking: also from CD&V and Open VLD, which are part of the Willebroek coalition. ‘Curfew because of amok makers’,

State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi (CD&V). ‘Deprivation of an entire neighborhood. I adjust serious questions. ‘

Open VLD responds via Member of Parliament Tim Vandenput. ‘This is definitely a bridge too far. You don’t punish an entire neighborhood or suspend the constitution because of a number of amok makers. Just because drastic measures are temporarily needed during the corona crisis does not mean that this should become the new normal for other situations. ‘ At Open VLD it is emphasized that the curfew is a decision of the mayor and not of the entire alderman’s college.

Green, SP.A and PVDA

Criticism is also heard among the left-wing parties. ‘Disproportionate and a dangerous slippery slope’, says Flemish Member of Parliament Imade Annouri van Groen

. ‘We should not consider this normal. All understanding for the local mayor who wants to tackle nuisance, but this is not the way.

The same sound is heard with fellow party members Jeremie

and federal group leader Kristof . And there is also criticism at SP.A. ‘Please turn back’, Member of Parliament Ben Segers. “Madness.” Jos D’Haese, Flemish party leader for PVDA, the curfew ‘completely disproportionate’.

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