Belgium: State Security Service officers not allowed to carry weapons…because of a legal glitch

“One of the oldest domestic intelligence agencies in continuous existence is Belgium’s civil security service, the Veiligheid van de Staat or Surêté de l’Etat (VSSE).”

Kenneth L. Lasoen

Jaak Raes — Current Administrator-General of Belgian State Security Service VSSE

 

Because of a legal mistake, the officers of the Belgian State Security Service were not allowed to legally carry weapons for almost one year. The mistake was detected last month and several dangerous missions are said to have been cancelled. A new law — which corrects this mistake — is entering into force today (March 9 2017). Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today

The State Security Service (VSSE) (known in Dutch as Veiligheid van de Staat and in French as Sûreté de l’État) is a Belgian intelligence and security agency.

The VSSE is a civilian agency under the authority of the Ministry of Justice. [The other federal intelligence agency — the General Information and Security Service — operates under the authority of the Ministry of Defense.] The Belgian Agency is 187 years old.

Since March 2014, the Administrator-General is Jaak Raes. His predecessor, Alain Winants, occupied the position from October 2006 – March 2014) . Before him, the VSSE Administrator-General Koen Dassen (September 2002 – February 2006) had to resign amidst a controversy. (The VSSE ‘lost sight’ of suspected Kurdish militant Fehriye Erdal.)

The main objective of State Security is the collection, analyzing and processing of all intelligence that might prove relevant to the prevention of any activity that might be a threat against the internal or external security of the state, the democratic and constitutional order and international relations, to carry out security inquiries, and to perform tasks in relation to the protection of certain people. [Wikipedia]

Legal error

In May 2016 — just a few weeks after the Brussels attacks — the Belgian government approved a new law [Arrêté Royal du 23 mai 2016] transferring part of the VSSE competence to the Police. In the process, the legal provision allowing VSSE officers to legally carry weapons was mistakenly abrogated. The error was discovered a few weeks ago and corrected today (March 9 2017). Media are reporting that some surveillance missions of suspected terrorists have been complicated if not cancelled.

RELATED POST: Former Head of Belgian Security Service: “Terrorists Will Hit Brussels Again”

RELATED POST: EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator: “The Caliphate Is Imploding.”

RELATED POST: EUROPOL: Islamic State to step up attacks on European targets

REFERENCES

Arrêté royal modifiant l’arrêté royal du 23 mai 2016 organisant le transfert des assistants de protection de la Sûreté de l’Etat vers la police fédérale — MONITEUR BELGE March 9 2017

“Vu l’urgence, motivée par l’absence d’un fondement juridique pour la détention et le port d’armes par les services opérationnels (dits « services extérieurs ») de la Sûreté de l’Etat, ce qui implique que les agents des services extérieurs ne disposent pas d’un fondement juridique pour le port d’armes pour leurs opérations en cours et que la présente situation nécessite donc une réparation urgente;

Considérant que le projet d’arrêté royal vise le retrait de l’article 15, b), de l’arrêté royal l’arrêté du 23 mai 2016 `organisant le transfert des assistants de protection de la Sûreté de l’Etat vers la police fédérale’. Cette disposition abrogeait erronément l’article 1er, 8°, de l’arrêté royal du 26 juin 2002 `relatif à la détention et au port d’armes par les services de l’autorité ou de la force publique’. L’article 1er, 8°, de l’arrêté royal du 26 juin 2002 constituait en effet le fondement juridique pour le port d’armes, non seulement par les assistants de protection mais également par les autres agents des services extérieurs de la Sûreté de l’Etat.”

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Belgium: State Security Service officers not allowed to carry weapons…because of a legal glitch

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