A few years ago Belgian politicians created a new toy to evade their responsibilities to adequately fund the judicial apparatus. In the last decades Belgian justice has become a class-justice. Understaffed, underfunded, and lost in an incomprehensible maze of laws often contradicting each other, the doors have been set wide open for shrewd lawyers and rich clients to evade the full penalty of law. There has been proof of corrupt judges in the past years, and nothing guarantees us that corruption has been eradicated within the system meant to protect the weak.
The police is also low on budget, and needs to economize year after year. Investigations of simple and clear matters take years to finalize, and after that these cases are handed over to a slow and incompetent judicial system. Not incompetent because of the lack of competence levels of the staff, but incompetent for the lack of staff and funds. It is not uncommon for a thief having been caught red-handed by the police forces to be convicted three or four years after the crime, nor is it uncommon for a man literally with blood on his hands from grave domestic violence on his partner to be left roaming freely in society during the following years, awaiting trial. Meanwhile the psychopath is left free to manipulate and deceive, and to go to his job as high-profile manager acting as if nothing happened. The psychopath is even allowed to educate his minor children during these years, because he was not convicted and last trial during divorce granted him co-parentship, even if those same kids were witnesses during the several bloody beatings by their father of his partners and their mother.
But fortunately we have our heroic politicians to come up with creative and lucrative solutions. They invented the ‘GAS-fines’. Gas is an acronym for ‘Gemeentelijke Administratieve Sanctie’, which means ‘Municipal Administrative Sanction’. With the system they effectively sidetracked justice, which they first deliberately made slow, expensive and ineffective (and thus incompetent), and then created the golden egg for the authorities. Each municipality has now designated civil servants charged with the task to search and fine perpetrators of the rules that vary from municipality to municipality. Every town, city, village, is free to set up their own rules to be obeyed.
In some places it is prohibited to climb in a tree. In others it is strictly forbidden to eat a sandwich on the steps to the church. Some places banned singing by children in the street. And there are places where you cannot throw personal trash, like the peel of an orange, the receipt of a purchase or the wrap of your sandwich into the bins lining the streets, placed there to.. right, throw in your small trash while wandering the streets. The main problem is that even a Belgian citizen, visiting a nearby locality, never knows which rules are instated in that place. That gives the Belgian a hard time, and surely seems to enhance the feeling of freedom of the nationals.
When kid I learned in school that our constitution is based on the separation of the three main powers: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. I cannot determine anything else but an infringement against the constitution. The power that voted the rules, that effectively implements those rules, and the one that fines the transgressions is one and the same.
I also learned – bad student as I was – that there is a legal separation of authorities in the persecution and verbalization of offenders. First the assessment and investigation of a possible infraction (most often done by the police), secondly the review of that infraction by the court, followed by the establishment of an eventual fine, and third the claiming of the pecuniary fines by the State. In this case we have one authority doing the assessment, the fining, and the collection of the fines. Without much of a hassle citizens are robbed in an unconstitutional way of their money, thanks to an illegal system that was legalized by their own politicians.
Of course some people are protesting. The majority is against, but as always the ones raising their voices and straining their necks are part of a minority. Politicians understand well the old adage of ‘divide and conquer’ combined with disguise and deception, by keeping their poor subjects busy with their daily concerns of keeping themselves afloat in the sea of taxes, of worrying about their jobs, of being scared for the future of their offspring, and setting population groups up against each other. So the majority is effectively silenced, and the few ranting and raving are presented to the public as antisocial, as extremists, as unstable personalities. With thanks to the media.
Many lawsuits have been filed against those ‘GAS-fines’, questioning the legality and constitutionality of the laws permitting these fines. But I think you get it.. Justice is understaffed and underfunded… So we are not near a final verdict concerning this matter.
Keep smiling! yann ❤️