BELGIUM: Left parties and unions in Belgium take a stand against bill to ban ‘rioters’ from protests

Extract from article published by Peoples Dispatch on 22/05/2023 – accessible here.

The Belgian government is proposing a parliamentary bill which seeks to ban ‘rioters’ from taking part in protests. Trade unions and leftist parties such as the Workers’ Party of Belgium say that the bill could be used to target their members and other activists by branding them as rioters.

A controversial bill proposed by Belgian Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne calling to ban ‘rioters’ from participating in protests has drawn widespread criticism. Working class sections and rights groups claim that provisions of the bill can be misused to brand trade unionists and activists as rioters and curtail their freedom to participate in protest and strikes. Earlier this week, due to fierce opposition from legislators of the Workers Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) in the Justice Committee of the Chamber of the Belgian Parliament, Quickenborne backed down from asking for an immediate vote on the bill. General Labor Federation of Belgium (FGTB-ABVV) leader Thierry Bodson also slammed the bill which could impose a “ban” on participants in any collective action.