Our office is setting beacons for internees. That is also necessary. Internees are mentally ill people who commit crimes as a result of their illness and often end up in prison without hope and without the required medical care. Inhumane conditions of which the Belgian state is guilty. Below are two striking cases. Van Steenbrugge Advocaten is suing the state, the European Court of Human Rights has condemned it.

Luke B.

“Master Walter Van Steenbrugge defended Luc B. (49), who had previously been convicted of theft, possession of weapons and rape of his underage daughter. The European Court in Strasbourg agreed with Luc B.. 'A deprivation of liberty of someone who is psychiatrically ill can only be done in a clinic or a care institution, not in a prison. If that does happen, then that deprivation of liberty is illegal," Strasbourg concluded."

From: Dwangsom against justice, article from the Gazet van Antwerpen of 8 October 2012. You can read the full article here.

The Clippel case

In a landmark judgment of 6 December 2011, the European Court of Human Rights has ordered the Belgian State to pay compensation of 50,000 euros to Tom De Clippel's parents. Tom struggled with a drug problem in his teens and was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was interned, first treated in De Sleutel in Ghent and later transferred to Sleidinge. When he did not register there for a few days for the compulsory day therapy, the Public Prosecution Service referred Tom to the psychiatric annex of the prison in Ghent. But due to lack of space, he ended up in an ordinary cell with three inmates. Tom didn't understand why he had to go to jail without a crime, struggled, and was isolated in a solitary cell. Less than a week later, on August 6, 2001, after the psychiatrist adjusted his medication and referred him to an individual cell, Tom committed suicide.

You can read more about the De Clippel case on the links below:

The judgment by the European Court of Human Rights

Press release from the European Court of Human Rights

The discussion of the judgment

“Belgium convicted of suicide prisoner”, De Morgen, 7 December 2011


Ellen Vermeulen made a haunting documentary about the fate of internees in Belgian prisons under the title '9999'. For this she won, among other things, the prize co-presented by our office Human Rights Unltd. Fried van Hoof aWard.