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Still no guarantee fund for terror victims: 'If another attack happens, it will be the same obstacle course'

08:09 21/03/2021

Terror victims’ associations have warned of a legal vacuum in Belgium, as the creation of a guarantee fund to compensate all victims of acts of terrorism has not happened.

The fund was advocated in 2017 by the public inquiry into the 22 March 2016 terror attacks in Brussels.

The aim of the inquiry commission in its recommendations was to intervene immediately after an attack so as not to leave the victims in a situation where they would be unable to seek treatment and obtain compensation for their damage.

This mechanism already exists in other countries such as France, where it is funded by a minimal contribution on all insurance contracts. It allows the compensation of attack victims regardless of the location of the attack. In Belgium this is not the case.

Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne is considering an amendment to the law to make it possible to cover all situations in the event of a new attack.

For Guillaume Lys, lawyer of the victims’ association V-Europe, the lack of guarantee funds as in France means that, for the time being, the presence of private insurers is the only guarantee of compensation.

"For the attacks of 22 March 2016, we had ‘luck’ in horror, to have the attacks take place in the airport and the metro station, which were places covered by insurance. But if a similar attack had happened in a public place, the victims would have had no other recourse than to turn to the Victims’ Financial Assistance Commission, for victims of intentional acts of violence."

This Victims’ Financial Assistance Commission, as its name suggests, provides financial aid, but it is capped at €125,000 euros, comes with a series of conditions to be met and is not intended to constitute real compensation, the amounts of which vary according to the actual damage suffered by each victim.

For Jamila Adda, president of the victims’ assistance association Life4Brussels, there is a real legal vacuum in Belgium: "As the financial commission does not cover a series of costs incurred by victims, we hope that in the absence of the creation of a guarantee fund as proposed by the inquiry commission, something else will be done quickly - because if another act of terrorism takes place it will be the same obstacle course as that endured by the victims of 22 March."

Photo: Olivier Hoslet/Belga

Written by Richard Harris