Research team

Law Enforcement

Expertise

Criminal law Criminal sanctions law

The Legal Position of Foreign Nationals in the Event of a Criminal Conviction in Belgium 01/11/2020 - 31/10/2022

Abstract

Criminal and migration law and policy are increasingly intertwined, resulting in tension between the two jurisdictions. Even though various legislative amendments have been implemented, no comprehensive investigation has ever been conducted into the criminal and administrative position of the foreign national in the event of a criminal conviction in Belgium. This PhD will investigate which punishments, modalities of punishment and modalities of execution criminal judges (can) impose on foreigners residing legally or illegally in Belgium. In addition, this research will examine the influence of a criminal conviction on the possibility of refusal or withdrawal of residence resulting in expulsion, and on the acquisition and withdrawal of Belgian citizenship. Furthermore, this PhD will identify and analyse the relevance of overarching legal rules and general principles governing this legal position, and evaluate Belgian legislation and practice in this regard. Besides, this research aims to clarify to what extent the fact that expulsion and citizenship withdrawal decisions are taken by the administration as opposed to a criminal court influences the degree of legal protection of the foreign national and the conformity of these decisions with overarching rules and principles. This research will be based upon legislation, case law and empirical data. An integrated legal comparison will be made with France and Switzerland.

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Right to silence and related rights in pre-trial suspects interrogations in the EU: legal and empirical study and related best practice (EmpRISe). 01/04/2019 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

The project contributes directly to the call priorities, namely effective and coherent implementation of Directive 2016/343, as well as Directives 2013/48/EU and 2016/1916 (among others). The project will examine, legally and empirically, the issues surrounding the implementation of RTS and other relevant rights, such as the right of access to a lawyer/legal aid, to information and access to material evidence, or the procedural guarantees for vulnerable suspects, in the context of pre-trial suspect interrogations in four selected EU MS: Belgium, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands. The countries were selected to ensure variety in the legal procedural systems and geopolitical situation. Subsequently, a comparative analysis will be carried out, leading to the identification of mechanisms and factors, which influence the implementation of the above-mentioned provisions. Best practices in effectuating these provisions in the daily practice of judicial actors will be identified. There exists a gap in the knowledge necessary for the effective transposition of RTS in pre-trial proceedings in the laws of Member States. This project aims to address the above-mentioned gaps. Additionally, it aims to contribute to a more evidence-based policy discourse around the RTS on the EU level, and more importantly in the individual Member States. RTS is one of the most politically debated procedural rights, the very rationale of which is sometimes brought into question (e.g., in respect of suspects of terrorism or organised crime). At the same time, the 5 discourse on RTS is often dominated by untested and generalised assumptions, such as that "only the guilty remain silent" or that "RTS prevents effective investigations." This project will provide reliable and robust empirical data on the practical implementation of RTS, with the view to improving the quality of the relevant discourse.

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Create and apply a set of criteria used to determine depenalsation 01/05/2020 - 31/10/2020

Abstract

The aim of the project is to create and apply a set of criteria used to determine depenalisation.The "Taxation-tool on criminality" will be used as a starting point. The reform of the Belgian Penal Code will be taken into account. An intra- and interdisciplinary scientifc team with expertise in criminal law, administrative law and criminlogy will do the research.

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Strengthening the protection of suspects' procedural rights in pretrial proceedings in the EU through practice-oriented training for laywers (SUPRALAT). 01/10/2015 - 30/09/2017

Abstract

The overall project's goal is to contribute to the effective implementation of the Directives 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation, 2012/13/EU on the right to information, 2013/48/EU on the right of access to a lawyer. It will be achieved through the development of a training program for lawyers on the day-to-day facilitation of suspects' procedural rights. The program will consist of practitioner training modules and a "train the trainer" (TTT) guide. The training focuses on pre-trial proceedings, because the Directives will mostly affect these procedural stages in the MS. It targets lawyers, as their role at pre-trial stages will expand greatly after the Directives' transposition. For example, lawyers will be expected to actively defend suspects' rights at police interrogations, which in most MS was not part of their role. However, a large part of the program will also be suitable for training police, judges and prosecutors. The objectives are: 1. Develop a training program for lawyers as described above, and pilot it in four EU countries: BE, HU, IE and NL 2. Advocate for practice-oriented training on facilitating suspects' rights in pre-trial proceedings to become part of professional training curricula for criminal lawyers in EU MS 3. Contribute to the exchange of best practices on facilitating the rights envisaged in the Directives among lawyers across the EU 4. Promote joint training of professionals involved in the delivery of suspects' rights at pre-trial stages to foster their cooperation in the application of the Directives. The project consists of 6 phases: 1. Develop European training modules to include knowledge-oriented (KO) and skills-oriented (SO) modules. KO modules will cover: the content and interpretation of the Directives (e.g. in view of ECtHR case law); roles/obligations of the relevant actors implied in the Directives; "best practices" in facilitating suspects' rights identified through empirical research. SO modules will train critical skills needed to facilitate procedural rights (e.g. to inform vulnerable suspects about their rights). 2. Develop a TTT guide on the use of these modules 3. Adjust the training program for national use in BE, IE, HU and NL 4. Train the trainers involved in lawyers' training in BE, IE, HU and NL (with participation of police, judges' and prosecutors' trainers) 5. Pilot the training modules in BE, IE, HU and NL. Parts of the training will be attended by police, prosecutors and/or judges to test the joint training design 6. Present/disseminate the training program to professional (training) organizations of lawyers and other stakeholders EU-wide

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Project website

The (evidential) value of statements by (cooperative) suspects: how to make suspects cooperative? 01/07/2010 - 30/06/2014

Abstract

The study examines 'the role of the statement by a cooperative suspect (guilty/innocent) in Belgian criminal cases' from a legal perspective (evidential value) as well as a psychology and law and a sociology and law perspective(stimulation of cooperation) . The study concerns (1) a legal analysis and literature screening and (2) a field study consisting of a combination of quantitative (questionnaires, case analysis) and qualitative methods (semi-structured interviews).

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Erosion of the public nature of criminal law (procedure): a positive evolution? 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

Lately, the legal doctrine is beginning to question the pure public or "governmental" approach to penal law, in which the offender is held accountable by society, the state or one of their many representatives. The reason for this approach is as follows: the laws or rules, which the offender has infringed, are instated and upheld by society. On the other hand, falling victim to a crime is an entirely private matter: the victim often experiences feelings of fear, loss, incertitude, etc. These emotions pertain strictly to the "private" or "individual" sphere. Nowadays, this private aspect does indeed influence the penal procedure in many ways. For example, penal (procedural) law often attempts to involve the victim in the proceedings. Is this a good idea?

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Consistency in sentencing: a dream or reality? 01/07/2009 - 31/12/2013

Abstract

It is necessary to come to a common idea about the gravity of the offence in order to make the Belgian legal criminal system less irrational. There is also a large scale of modalities of punishment. Meanwhile, there is a world of difference between judgments in similar cases. As far as the sentencing system is concerned, there is a crying need for more consistency and less irrationality. The project aims at studying this evolution and at formulating concrete proposals.

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The illegality and criminality of torture: in search of an absolute prohibition in the shadow of the war on terror. 01/10/2007 - 30/09/2009

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Towards less irrationality and more uniformity in the Belgian sentencing system. 01/01/2007 - 31/12/2009

Abstract

It is necessary to come to a common idea about the gravity of the offence in order to make the Belgian legal criminal system less irrational. There is also a large scale of modalities of punishment. Meanwhile, there is a world of difference between judgments in similar cases. As far as the sentencing system is concerned, there is a crying need for more uniformity and less irrationality. The project aims at studying this evolution and at formulating concrete proposals.

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Administrative sanctioning mechanisms: a magic cure against maintenance deficits or an empty box? 01/11/2006 - 30/04/2007

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