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Human rights monument inaugurated at Tour & Taxis

21:48 10/12/2018

A 12-metre-high obelisk engraved with the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been inaugurated in Brussels' Tour & Taxis district to mark the text's 70th anniversary.

The monument, consisting of a stack of 30 coloured stones, includes all the articles of the declaration in four languages - French, Dutch, German and English.

It was designed by landscape architect Bas Smets, who also made the memorial in the Sonian Forest to the victims of the 2016 Brussels terror attacks.

The Brussels-Capital Region has financed the €140,000 monument. The region's minister for the environment, Céline Frémault, said: "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a text of paramount importance, which deserved to be materialised in a public space. This monument can enable schools, youth groups or other associations to work on these crucial issues."

An Amnesty International report published on the occasion of the declaration's 70th anniversary says fundamental rights are under pressure in Europe - and says Belgium is "not rising to the challenge of human rights".

The NGO points to Wallonia's sale of arms to Saudi Arabia, the recent saga around Belgium's support for the UN migration pact, and "deplorable" prison conditions "exacerbated by prison officer strikes".

Amnesty is also critical of Belgium's immigration policy - and in particular the detention of children with their families in a new closed unit in Steenokkerzeel, near Zaventem airport.

"It is unacceptable that Belgium has returned to this shameful practice, which is contrary to the best interests of children," said Amnesty International's Belgian director Philippe Hesmans. "It is also unacceptable that people are forced to sleep on the streets because of the limitation of the daily number of asylum applications."

Written by The Bulletin