Violence or discrimination by the police

One of the most important jobs of the police is to protect citizens. But sometimes police officers themselves are guilty of discrimination, hate speech or hate crimes.

    Violence or discrimination by the police

    Discriminatory behaviour

    Example: a police officer systematically checks the identity of citizens with a darker skin colour.

    Police officers maintain public order, and they are therefore granted certain powers. The antidiscrimination laws provide for specific treatment of civil servants (including police officers) who abuse this position and commit discrimination on the job.

    Police officers can face criminal prosecution if they discriminate against someone on the basis of protected criteria. Furthermore, they risk a prison sentence of two months to two years.

    Violence or discrimination by the police

    Hate speech or hate crimes

    Example: a police officer incites hatred of foreigners on a Facebook page. 

    Police officers, too, can be guilty of hate speech or hate crimes.

    Hate speech is any form of expression that disseminates, promotes, justifies or calls for hatred against a certain group.

    A hate crime is a crime whereby someone is targeted because of his or her origin, religion or creed, sexual orientation, disability or other discrimination criterium protected by law. This includes, for example, assault and battery, abuse or insults.

    Do you feel that you have experienced discrimination by a police officer?

    Then report it to Unia via our report form. Unia will provide you with information and assistance.

    You can also file a complaint with one of the three specific supervisory bodies for the police:

    • Comité P analyses complaints from citizens about the actions or methods of police forces.  Unia also has a joint operating protocol with this committee.
    • Every local police zone or federal police force has an Internal Oversight Department. This department investigates complaints or reports about the police work of a member of the force. If you would like to contact the Internal Oversight Department, you can get in touch with the relevant police zone or police force.  
    • Finally, the General Inspectorate investigates complaints from citizens about the behaviour of police officers or the functioning of a police force.