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Lie detector tests on hold for more than a year due to lack of legislation

15:25 25/06/2021

The federal police have not used lie detector technology for more than a year, due to a shortage of specialists as well as a lack of proper legislation. The lack of the technology is leading to a backlog of cases in the justice system. Federal interior minister Annelies Verlinden (CD&V) confirmed the information during an answer to a parliamentary question by fellow party member Franky Demon.

While the results of lie detector tests can not alone serve as proof of guilt in court, they are normally used alongside other forms of hard evidence, such as DNA. Police note that if a suspect fails a lie detector, they often just confess to the crime.

Accused also have the right to request a polygraph test in their own defence. If a suspect requests the test, and it is not available, the investigation is held up, and the case cannot go to court.

“In one case, the investigation came to a standstill about a year and a half ago because the suspect asked for a polygraph, but we simply couldn’t provide it,” Dirk Van Nuffel, chief of police in Bruges, told Het Nieuwsblad. “And we don’t know when we will be able to.”

The federal police only have four specialists skilled in administering the test and interpreting the results, so there is a waiting list in the best of times. During lockdown, tests were not allowed to be carried out, which is part of the reason why none have been done since March of 2020. The other reason is legislative.

In the first quarter of last year, the law regarding the administration of lie detectors changed, which required a new royal decree to be signed. The device could not be used until that happened. That has only recently happened, with justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne signing the decree. Now it must be officially published, at which time it will become law. That should take about two weeks.

Photo ©Getty Images

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw