“The war on drugs is fought with a divided army. How can you win dying in Antwerp if part of the college of aldermen openly advocates legalization? And how required it is if the mayor always reiterates to the lack of support from the federal government. That indeed too limited support is a weak excuse to confirm your own failures”, Filip Dewinter (VB) opened the debate.
It is the expected criticism and the other opposition parties in the municipality also tapped from their shown keg. “You invested heavily in safety with, among other things, surgery night watch and was one of the foundations of the power plan in the fight against the drug mafia. But you have also reduced the proximity police and thus the feeling in the neighbourhoods,” says Nahima Lanjri (CD&V).
The party chairman accuses Bart De Wever of a lack of willingness to cooperate with the federal government. “Your criticism that the government is not doing anything is absolutely untrue,” Lanjri said. Peter Mertens (PVDA) mainly criticizes the previous governments’ cutbacks on “reducing staff in public services”.
“And we are now also seeing that in the fight against drug crime. In that battle it is also important to follow the money. This can be done by lifting bank secrecy. Otherwise we will not get any further than picking up small shrimp.”
Furthermore, Peter Mertens also advocates for drug prevention and aimed at vulnerable young people. “No approach to drugs without the social approach of vulnerable young people.”
“Weak file knowledge”
Koen Laenens (N-VA) clearly resisted and points out that the college has done well to get the drugs. “There is good cooperation with the various services. Also with federal, such as customs. That does not prevent the federal government from committing wrongdoing.”
Meanwhile, the N-VA remains, and that is no surprise, against the “legalization of this chemical junk”. Mayor Bart De Wever, in turn, accuses a number of opposition members of a lack of file knowledge.
“Last week in a closed committee, noses were largely in the same direction, now in the public session decay again in his political game. Again, the proximity police are included, we know that three quarters of the effects of drugs come from the Netherlands.”
On to more than a thousand detainees
Bart De Wever again emphasized the situation in Antwerp. “Make no mistake about that. This year alone, more than a thousand people will have been or will be raised for drug offenses.”
The argument of the largest made little impression on the opposition. “I hear foreseen, but no problems are coming. What I do hear is that Vooruit openly advocates legalization. While everyone should speak out against drugs more than ever,” Filip Dewinter replied.
Karen Maes was not convinced either. “People in the neighborhoods don’t know who to turn to to raise concerns. The local police are too often absent. And you, mayor, in this story are mainly party chairman and not mayor.”