Journalists arrested while covering asylum protest

Expression

On 20th June 2018, two journalists and three technicians from the Belgian TV station RTBF covering a peaceful protest were arbitrarily arrested by the police, who also seized their recording equipment. They were covering a protest organised by the activist group #NotInMyName in Steenokkerzeel municipality. More than 100 people blocked access to a new detention center protesting the detention of families and particularly children.

While reporting, the  police asked the journalists and their team to stop filming. When they refused to do so, the police seized their equipment and took them into custody. The TV crew was released later that day.

The League of Human Rights (Ligue des Droits de l'Homme) condemned the incident:

 “... we cannot tolerate the fact that journalists are prevented from doing their job, as press freedom is a fundamental principle of democracy. Such a hindrance to the freedom of information in Belgium is particularly worrying and contributes to the weakening of values that are fundamental in a state governed by the rule of law."

The RTBF said it was looking into the possibility of legal action.

Peaceful Assembly

As noted above, on 20th June 2018, about 100 activists from the #NotInMyName collective gathered in Steenokkerzeel to protest the construction of a new detention center for migrant families with children. The protestors are opposed to Belgium's and Europe's detention policies. A few dozen protestors managed to get into the building site. Some activists climbed onto the roof while others chained themselves to fences or to concrete blocks. Approximately 80 protestors were arrested by police. 

The Federal Asylum and Migration Secretary of Belgium has reportedly filed a civil complaint against the activists claiming recovery of an estimated €5,880.60 in damage they allegedly caused to the roof of the detention center.