BRUSSELS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Belgium's lower house passed a controversial bill on Tuesday giving police extra powers to fight terrorism, to the dismay of human rights lawyers who see it as a violation of the right to privacy. The Chamber of Deputies approved the bill by 80 votes to eight with 37 abstentions, and it now needs to win Senate approval to pass into law. It would allow police to raid suspects' homes at any time of the day or night, and to carry out certain types of surveillance without permission from a magistrate. Police were previously restricted to conducting raids during the day, and were forbidden to take photographs of suspects without permission. "The old legislation allowed police to look around and see if a full investigation would be useful," said Justice Committee President Fons Borginon. "We now allow them to do that during the night." The bill was drafted by the federal prosecutor's office, which wants to be able to carry out investigations without having first to go through a cumbersome legal process, and is an extension to a recent law which made terrorism a crime. Prosecutors are using the law for the first time in a case against 13 suspected members of an Islamic militant group called the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM). Human rights advocates have criticised the bill, saying it does not strike the right balance between the protection of national security and the rights of the individual. "We think these measures would strike a blow to the right to defence and to a private life," said Manuel Lambert, the lawyer of the Belgian Human Rights League. "It gives too much power to the police and not enough protection of civil liberties." The bill does give defence lawyers greater access to information gathered by police on suspects, but how much is revealed, including the names of informants, remains the subject of debate, a justice official said.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Sure, Let's See How Europeans Would Handle This One...
Notes from National Review Online..... It seems to be in vogue at SCOTUS to look to European law trends to determine how best to interpret the Constitution of the United States. I like this one: