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Denouncing on the rise in Belgium

Denunciations for non-compliance with health standards abound in police stations, clear signs of a deterioration in living together.

Denunciations for non-compliance with health standards abound in police stations, clear signs of a deterioration in living together.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – Originally, we find a news item. A fight pitted a Waterloo family against the police during a covid check. The case went to the judge.

Since then, we have learned that the incriminated family had been denounced by a neighbor who suspected them of hosting more people under his roof than the health standards provide, which was indeed the case. This “betrayal” added to the impression of unnecessary violence engendered by the forceful intervention of the police. And the unflattering comments for “crows in the service of the cops” have multiplied on social networks.

Several media are shocked at what BX1 perceives as “increased denunciation”. The Brussels channel explains that a resident of Ixelles was having her daughter’s hair braided when a dozen police officers knocked on her door. A neighbor saw her through the window, took a picture and called the police station.

In Belgium, hairdressers and contact professions had to close their doors as part of the anti-covid measures. Neither industry complaints nor scientific studies exonerating trade fairs from the spread of the virus have succeeded in reopening them. Hair and beards are growing in shambles, this supposed lack of hygiene contributing to undermine the morale of the population. However, the “resistance” is organizing: some hairdressers come to their homes to serve an impatient clientele clandestinely. Everything goes smoothly, as long as the anonymously informed police officers do not arrive.

This case is far from isolated according to the police, who confirm the increase in the denunciation. The Charleroi police station mentions “dozens of denunciations per day”. In addition to hairdressers, it is lockdown parties, family reunions, lodgings and drinks around the brazier that are the subject of complaints from neighbors who are unsympathetic or petrified by fear of contracting the virus. Each time, the reason is the same: the number of people noted during the flagrante delicto is higher than the standards. For example, a household can only accommodate one person in its walls: it will be little to celebrate the new year.

“The government wanted a single strong team – the union of all Belgians – united to fight against covid” writes Het Laatste Nieuws which evokes a “dangerous slope” towards general denunciation. Some previous regimes did this, the Flemish daily continues, adding that no one wants to relive such an era.

It is difficult to quantify for the moment these denunciations which often compensate for the disappearance of the neighborhood agent. In small numbers, police officers – but also a whole range of controllers ranging from taxes and social laws to administrative penalties – are only too happy to go where a suspected crime is reported.

As in most of the countries which suffered from the two world wars, Belgium remains marked by denunciation and collaboration with the occupier. Without going so far as to find the reason for such behavior in history, several recent studies have highlighted the difficulty for the population to experience this second confinement, compared to the first. With the consequence that the anxious and the malicious would have no tolerance for those who want to have a little good time despite the sanitary rules.


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