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Belgian Riot Police Clash With Striking Prison Guards

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Belgian riot police clashed with prison guards who were on strike and demonstrating at the Justice Ministry.

The prison warders had burst into the Belgian Justice Ministry building on Tuesday, breaking windows and trashing fittings before being forced out by baton-wielding riot police firing pepper spray.

Press TV reports:

About a thousand demonstrators had gathered in support of the warders outside the ministry headquarters in the capital, Brussels, throwing eggs at the facade of the building, setting off firecrackers, chanting slogans and protesting budget cuts, according to the media.

 

 

The incident raised tensions in an already critical situation caused by the warders’ strike that started three weeks ago.

The warders, who are discontent over pay and labor conditions, had originally planned to go on a 24-hour strike.

However, the strike got extended and the government sent in army troops, regular police forces and Red Cross workers to run jails.

The government is now facing legal complaints from prisoners and human rights groups for inmates being denied of their basic rights and amenities.

“The inmates can’t go out, they are stuck in their cells all day, they aren’t getting fresh air, the bed sheets aren’t getting changed, they are not allowed any visits,” Vincent Spronck, governor of Brussels’ Forest Prison, was quoted by media as saying last week.

Alexis Deswaef, a lawyer and president of Belgium’s Human Rights League, recently said that “detention conditions have become completely inhuman … [and] prisoners have resorted to smashing up furniture and starting fires in protest.”

“This sets a dangerous precedent – to use the army to sort out a social issue,” Deswaef said.