MEPs welcome moves to strengthen security in Brussels’ EU quarter after spate of violent attacks

UPDATED: 08 March 2021 10:28 | Victim of attempted sexual assault told by local police that they didn’t have the resources to investigate.
Fotolia

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

08 Mar 2021

Belgian MEPs and MPs have welcomed moves to improve security in Brussels’ EU quarter following a ‘disturbing’ spate of violent attacks.

This comes after an online campaign was launched to improve safety in the area, in particular in and around the Cinquantenaire Park.

The park, which overlooks the European Commission’s Berlaymont headquarters and Council building and is also close to the European parliament, has been the scene of reported recent assaults on women.

However, efforts have now been made to step up security in and around the area. The new measures come as the EU and international community marked International Women’s Day on Monday on March 8.

Following an attempted rape in the park recently, a petition was launched in January by a Spanish expatriate, known only as Carla R.

She lodged a report of attempted sexual assault with the police department and later said that while the police knew of problems in the park they lacked sufficient resources to do combat it.

"The Cinquantenaire is a fantastic park; a place where there is lots to do and where people of all generations and from all corners of the world meet. That is why these measures are so important, so that each of us can fully enjoy it, without a worry in the world, while feeling safe and at peace" Belgian Renew Europe MEP Hilde Vautmans

Thousands of people signed her petition and, it is claimed, personal testimonies suggested there had been several recent assaults that had gone unreported. 

After pressure from Brussels parliamentarian Carla Dejonghe the Brussels police and local authorities have now agreed to introduce several new security measures, including more police patrols, better lighting and trim back bushes and shrubbery to help reduce the possibility of further attacks in the park.

Maps of the park will also be posted at each of its entrances.

Dejonghe told The Parliament Magazine that the petition had shone a spotlight on such problems, adding, "after discovering the official numbers of assaults in and around the Cinquantenaire Park, I realised many incidents went unnoticed. Victims shouldn't suffer in silence, but should be comfortable speaking up."

Dejonghe said the public should not be wary of making a complaint if they are attacked.

 

“Sexual assault and harassment in public spaces must become priorities for law enforcement and justice, in the follow-up of complaints, investigations and prosecutions. Prevention is also essential and victims must feel protected; they must be able to lodge a complaint while feeling supported and obtain an appropriate response" Belgian Greens/EFA MEP Saskia Bricmont

 

The measures were welcomed by two Belgian MEPs.

Renew Europe deputy Hilde Vautmans told this website, "The Cinquantenaire is a fantastic park; a place where there is lots to do and where people of all generations and from all corners of the world meet.”

“That is why these measures are so important, so that each of us can fully enjoy it, without a worry in the world, while feeling safe and at peace."

Saskia Bricmont, of the European Parliament’s Greens/EFA group, also told The Parliament Magazine, “Sexual assault and harassment in public spaces must become priorities for law enforcement and justice, in the follow-up of complaints, investigations and prosecutions.”

She added, “Prevention is also essential and victims must feel protected; they must be able to lodge a complaint while feeling supported and obtain an appropriate response. The guilt must change sides and it must be clear that there is no impunity for rapists and abusers.

“Education and culture change is also needed to put an end to sexism. This is also why we are asking for a Gender Based Violence Directive at EU level; violence towards woman must find and end.”

Read the most recent articles written by Martin Banks - Migration & Asylum: Breaking the deadlock on EU migration policy

Share this page