Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 – Belgium


The Kingdom of Belgium is a parliamentary democracy with 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. Observers considered federal parliamentary elections held in 2014 to be free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The main human rights problem was heightened hostility and discrimination against racial and religious minorities in employment, housing, and societal attitudes. In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and in Brussels in March, there was an upsurge in reported anti-Islamic incidents across the country, including demonstrations or attempted demonstrations in Brussels, Ghent, and Antwerp. Restrictions on certain forms of religious clothing in public and private sector employment, schools, and public spaces affected Muslim women in particular. Anti-Semitic incidents occurred in schools, the media, and elsewhere in society.

Other human rights problems included a sharp deterioration in prison conditions in May during a strike by prison guards; continued prison overcrowding; domestic violence against women; discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and trafficking in persons.

Authorities actively prosecuted and punished officials who committed abuses, whether in the security services or elsewhere in government.

Read the full report on Belgium here: