Individuals who are not from the police will be able to, from now on subject to certain conditions, infiltrate given environments to fight against organised crime and terrorism.
If required for the given investigation, they can commit offences, for example acting as chauffeurs for criminals. The Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, announced that the federal government had indeed approved regulations in this respect.
Mr Geens said civilian infiltration is necessary “as the police are not able to infiltrate all environments. In some cases, this infiltration proves impossible, owing to language or given powers, either because the newcomers are subject to increased scorn, or because demands which are impossible to keep are imposed upon newcomers in the particular field or environment. The criminal and terrorist sphere is also taking a multitude of measures so as to hamper current techniques. Given that informants cannot commit offences, it is not always possible to resort to them as a means of collecting evidence.”
The regulations adopted on Thursday enable the given public prosecutor’s office, with the intervention of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, to authorise the designation of a civilian infiltrator, when there is no other means to move a given case forward. This is a “particular method for investigative research,” which must, as such, comply with a series of safeguards.
The Minister of Justice insists the civilian infiltration must be “major, accurate and credible.” It will be subject to an in-depth screening, continuously monitored by a judge.
The infiltrator will be able to, as part of his intervention, commit “minor offences”, such as that indicated above (being a chauffeur for criminals), or hiring a car or flat to them. These offences will be subject to prior approval of the given public prosecutor’s office, with continuous monitoring by the police, the public prosecutor’s office and the courts.
If the infiltrator’s safety is in danger, he will have the right to the same protection as witnesses under threat. However, Koen Geens warns, “If the civilian infiltrator goes beyond the limits set by the relevant public prosecutor’s office, he will incur the same punishment for these acts as an individual who is not specifically an infiltrator.”