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Belgian State Security Service: Wikis

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The Belgian State Security Service, known in Dutch as Veiligheid van de Staat, or Staatsveiligheid (SV), and in French as Sûreté de l'État (SE), is a civilian agency under the Ministry of Justice. There also exists in Belgium an intelligence service under responsibility of the Minister of National Defense, which is called the Belgian General Information and Security Service. Alain Winants is currently director of State Security, after Koen Dassen resigned amidst the controversy over State Security losing sight of suspected Kurdish terrorist Fehriye Erdal.

Contents

Tasks

The main objective of State Security is the collection, analyzing and processing of all intelligence that might prove relevant to the prevention of any activity that might be a threat against the internal or external security of the state, the democratic and constitutional order and international relations, to carry out security inquiries, and to perform tasks in relation to the protection of certain people. This protection is given to important people visiting Belgium, such as visiting heads of state. This sometimes leads to conflicts of authority. An example for this can be seen in a visit by President George Bush of the United States to Brussels in 2006. The Secret Service there refused the Belgian authorities to come close to the president and refused to give up the close protection. Although in accordance with international treaties protection should be given by the welcoming state, Secret Service personnel refused to give up their weapons. During the visit rumours were spread they had used their weapons (although they are in principle not allowed to carry them), but this was never officially confirmed.

Directors

  • Alain Winants (October 27, 2006 - )
  • Koen Dassen (September 2002 - February 2006)
  • Godelieve Timmermans (June 2000 - August 2002)
  • Bart van Lijsebeth (1994 - September 1999)
  • Stephane Schewebach (1990-1993, ad interim)
  • Albert Raes (1977 - June 1990)
  • Ludovicus Caeymaex (1958-1977)
  • Fernand Lepage (1940-1944)
  • Robert De Foy (1933 - 1940; 1945-1958)

Parliamentary supervision

During the 1980's, a number of incidents including the Walloon Brabant supermarket killings, the activities of terrorist groups such as the Combatant Communist Cells and the neo-Nazist Westland New Post brought attention and criticism to the activities and ineffectiveness of the nation’s police and intelligence agencies.

In 1991, following two government enquiries, a permanent parliamentary committee, Committee I, was established to bring these agencies, not previously subject to any outside control, under the authority of Belgium’s federal parliament. Legislation governing the missions and methods of these agencies was put in place in 1998.

Entitlement

The entitlements of the Security Service were expanded in 2006. Before they did not have much police power, and were only able to gather and analyse information. They were allowed to follow people, but not to interfere. This has changed now with what are called the 'Bijzondere Opsporingsmethodes' (Special Inquiry Methods). They have given several more powers to the Service enabling them to work more efficiently. These powers are among others: the possibility to put taps on phones, to enter homes of people suspected of being involved in terrorist activities without them knowing, or to detain and question people. This all under the supervision of specially appointed judges, much like the system already in place in the policing system with what are called 'onderzoeksrechters' (Inquiry Judges). This adjustment of the system has made the Security Service more like its kins in other countries. They are however not yet as strong as the services in Britain or France. The change in policy had been in the loop since several years ago, but recent events gave the final impulse for change. These were, among others, the escape of Fehriye Erdal.

See also

External links

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