Any citizen who considers that his/her individual rights have not been respected by State Security, the General Intelligence and Security Service, the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment or by a supporting service acting in this capacity, may lodge a complaint. The law also enables citizens to inform the Standing Committee I of their complaints or denunciations in the event of any dysfunction noted within the services mentioned above.

The Standing Committee I can be referred to in its triple capacity of

1. Parliamentary review body

Which complaints or denunciations does the Standing Committee I examine?

The Standing Committee I deals with complaints and denunciations about the functioning, actions, conduct or failure to act of the intelligence services, the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment and the other support services and their personnel.

For the intelligence services and the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment, the complaint can relate to the legitimacy, effectiveness or coordination of all aspects of their running.

For the supporting services, the complaint can only relate to the legitimacy, effectiveness or coordination of the transmission of information on terrorism and extremism to the the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment.

 

Who can lodge a complaint or file a denunciation?

Anybody who is or has been directly affected by the action of an intelligence service, the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment or a support service can lodge a complaint or file a denunciation to the Standing Committee I or its Investigation Service.

Moreover, any civil servant or any person who holds a public office and any member of the armed forces who is directly affected by the directives, decisions or rules of application thereof, as well as by procedures or actions, can lodge a complaint or file a denunciation without having his/her supervisor or hierarchical superiors’ permission.

Anonymity can be guaranteed. In such a case, his/her identity may only be divulged within the Investigation Service and the Standing Committee I.

 

How to lodge a complaint or file a denunciation?

You can lodge a complaint or file a denunciation verbally or in writing.

Verbal complaints (preferably, but not necessarily, after making an appointment) can be lodged in the offices of the Standing Committee I. A member of the Investigation Service will take note of the complaint or denunciation.

Written complaints can be lodged by e-mail, fax or letter. The enclosed form can be used for this purpose.

 

What is done with a complaint or denunciation?

The Standing Committee I will subject the complaint to an initial examination to determine whether or not it is within its sphere of competence.

If the Standing Committee I declares the complaint admissible, an investigation is started. When the investigation is closed, the person concerned will be informed of the results in general terms. Depending on the case the conclusions of the investigation are notified to the manager of the intelligence service, the director of the Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment, or the manager of the supporting service. They are also sent to the competent minister(s) and Parliament, and then be made public. In the first instance, they are intended to improve the operation of the reviewed services by changing the rules or practice. The Standing Committee I cannot award compensation, give orders to the services, or mediate in disputes.

If the complaint is manifestly unfounded, the Standing Committee I can decide not to investigate. Such a decision must be justified and the person concerned will be informed thereof in writing. If applicable, the Standing Committee I can refer him/her to the body or service that may indeed have jurisdiction over his/her complaint.

 

2. Judicial body

Any person who can prove a personal and legitimate interest can lodge a complaint with the Standing Committee I, which, in its capacity as a judicial body, performs a control of the legality of the specific and exceptional methods. The complainant must lodge his/her complaint in writing and specify his/her grievances.

Unless the complaint is manifestly unfounded, the Standing Committee I will examine the file and make a decision within one month. During the processing of a complaint, the complainant and his/her lawyer may consult the file at the Standing Committee I's Secretariat for a period of five working days. The file accessible to the complainant and his/her lawyer – i.e. the file expurgated of information which is classified and sensitive for State security – makes it possible, at the least, to determine the legal context which formed the basis for the use of a specific or exceptional intelligence collection method, the nature of the threat and its degree of severity which justified the use of the specific method and finally, the type of personal data collected when the method was implemented, as long as these data only concern the complainant.

The Standing Committee I has extensive competences. It can hear the members of the administrative Commission, the head of the intelligence service concerned, and the members of the intelligence and security services who implemented the specific methods. At their request, the complainant and his/her lawyer can be heard by the Standing Committee I.

If the Standing Committee I notes that the decisions regarding special methods are illegal, it orders the cessation of the method concerned and prohibits the use of the data collected using this method and orders their destruction.

 

3. Prejudicial adviser

If a case record contains data collected by an intelligence service via a specific or exceptional method, and if this information is contained in a non-classified report, the citizen concerned may ask the Council Chamber or the court dealing with the substance of the case to request the advice of the Standing Committee I on the legality of the way in which the information was collected by the intelligence services.

In principle, the request must be formulated at the beginning of the investigation of the case. The decision to ask the advice of the Standing Committee I is the sole responsibility of the judge. The Committee only issues advice on the legality of the methods used.

Besides the Standing Committee I, other authorities are in charge of reviewing the Belgian intelligence services.

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