- BEL032First Instance Court of Brussels 09-03-2011
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2011-03-09Sentence Date : 2011-03-09
The defendant managed 5 companies, employing a number of domestic workers. Some of the employees (mostly women) in these companies complained about the companies’ failure to apply the Belgian labour laws, denouncing, in particular, the non-payment of salaries, the non-declaration of employment to the social services, the non-payment of the annual holiday pay, the failure of the companies to provide social insurance…etc.
The employees interrogated said that the defendant could be aggressive and offensive, and several of the victims affirmed that they were scared of him. The employees maintained that the defendant threatened them with termination of their employment in order to coerce them to work longer hours. Moreover, whenever the workers were entitled to days off (i.e.: sickness leave), the defendant refused to grant them such days off and/or pressured them into coming back to work as soon as possible. It appears that most employees were in vulnerable social situations before beginning to work in these companies, due to long unemployment periods, precarious jobs and economic hardship.
The infringement period in this case is long, starting before 2005, when the first investigations were launched by the Belgian authorities, and continuing until 2008; and concerns overall over 60 employees. From the case we can infer that the Belgian social security and labour inspection services had been suspicious of the companies’ activities for a long time, as several inspections were launched, the results of which were used in the judicial proceedings.
The defendant pretended to be a counsellor in these companies, but in reality he was managing them all, and was the majority stakeholder of 3 of the companies. The police also found him in possession of an important sum of money.Show more
- BEL028First Instance Tribunal of Liege 29-06-2009
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2009-06-29Sentence Date : 2009-06-29
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- BEL027First Instance Tribunal of Charleroi 19-03-2010
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2010-03-19Sentence Date : 2010-03-19
The first two defendants recruited foreigners who were residing in Belgium illegally, to do construction work for the two last defendants (two private companies). The salary given to the workers was under the legal minimum wage and in any case, it was not paid by the defendants. The defendants told the victims that they were withholding their pay in case any problems arose in relation to the construction work.Show more
- BEL025Correctional Tribunal of Charleroi 10-12-2010
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2010-12-10Sentence Date : 2010-12-10
The Defendant (acting on his own) recruited the victims, once these were already on Belgian territory. He exploited the victims, making them clean fast-food restaurants at night, 6 nights a week, for a salary of 300 euros per month (which is at least 3 times below the minimum legal wage).
The defendant took advantage of the fact that the victims were residing illegally in Belgium, and deceived them through false promises of proper jobs with reasonable wages once the victims gained legal residence in the Belgian territory.Show more
- BEL024First Instance Tribunal of Charleroi 23-04-2010
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2010-04-23Sentence Date : 2010-04-23
The Defendants, both acting on their own (not as a criminal organisation) hired 4 workers to do construction work in buildings that they owned; forcing them to work more than 6 days a week for a salary which was at least 3 times under the minimum legal wage, and to live and sleep on the construction site in conditions contrary to human dignity.
The defendants were taking advantage of the fact that the victims were residing in Belgium illegally.Show more
- BEL023Correctional Tribunal of Charleroi 18-03-2011
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2011-03-18Sentence Date : 2011-03-18
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- BEL001Not. Nr. 1214/07
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2010-01-25Sentence Date : 2010-01-25
The victim, S., was discovered on 28 January 2006 on board a ship for inland navigation working as a sailor. He did not have a working permit, and therefore was considered an illegal alien. The victim had worked as a sailor on the ship since 8 December 2005, and had been hired by Defendant 1, the ship owner.
The victim declared that he had been contracted through an official agency (Sanara). This agency was recruiting Romanian shipping crews to work in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. The victim had an individual contract for embarkation, written in English. The victim stated that although he did not speak English, he understood that he would receive a monthly wage of EUR 750 plus board and lodging, and was also aware of the expected work load. These conditions made him decide to travel to Antwerp, Belgium. From the victim’s testimony, it may be concluded that he had worked voluntarily and under the conditions he had agreed to. Furthermore, the victim was receiving even a higher salary than originally agreed upon, of EUR 900 a month. Defendant 1 stated that the victim worked as an independent worker. Every month the victim presented an invoice for his services to Defendant 1, and the money was paid accordingly.
Defendant 2, the captain of the ship, declared that the ship usually navigated only 5 days a week. He also stated that the victim was responsible for keeping the ship clean and in good condition, and for facilitating passage through the lock-gates. Working hours for the captain himself and the victim were not fixed, falling between 06:00 and 22:00, but often finishing earlier at around 19:30.
Both Defendants declared that the victim was provided the same meals as Defendant 2. The Court concluded that these statements were likely to be true, because the victim in his testimony did not complain about the meals.Show more
- BEL029Correctional Tribunal of Nivelles 25-01-2013
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2013-01-25
The defendant was arrested on August 25th, 2012, while he was in his car and had just picked up a person who had been begging in the car park of a supermarket. Another person was found the following day in the car park of a different supermarket, and told the police that he had been waiting for the defendant to pick him up. A third person was found the same day in the car park of another supermarket. All three victims were physically disabled and moved around in a wheelchair. None of them spoke French.
The three victims reported that they were living in an institution in Slovakia, when the defendant had offered to take them to his place, pretending he was their cousin. The victims lived in one single room with other disabled people and could not access other parts of the house. The defendant had already brought the victims to Belgium to beg on several occasions. He left them in the car park of a supermarket at the opening time and came to pick them up when the store closed, 6 days a week. The defendant took all the money they collected, as well as the social benefits received by the victims in Slovakia. It appears that the victims and the defendant all slept in the car during their stay in Belgium.
On the day of the arrest the police found 4 pillows, 650 € in cash, a large quantity of coins, and French-language signs asking for money in the defendant’s car. The police investigation found that the defendant had been previously convicted in Slovakia for his involvement in similar activities, and that investigations had also been conducted in Germany and in Slovenia. It seems that the defendant was acting alone and was not part of a network.Show more
- BEL031Case No. 2013/1339
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2013-04-23Sentence Date : 2013-04-23
On the 17th of November 2010, two Bulgarian women entered a police station in Liège, and claimed that they were being forced into prostitution. The police decided to examine the mobile phone of one of the victims with her agreement, and put in place a telephone wiretapping device.
The police launched an investigation, and observed the defendants, in order to check their contacts with people engaged in prostitution, to establish a potential hierarchy among the defendants, and to locate the place where the victims were being hosted.
The police found that the four appellants were working in an organised manner in order to constantly monitor and control the victims, and also imposed a certain working rhythm over the girls. Moreover, one of the defendants was seen by the police while collecting money from the victims and another defendant was arrested in possession of an important sum of money.This evidence was supported by the testimonies of the victims: one of the victims stated that she had been forced to give all the money she earned to the defendant, who threatened to break her legs if she left, and forced her to work even when she was sick.
Another victim reported that she had been brought to Belgium by one of the defendants, who promised that she would work as a waitress or as a housemaid. Another victim said that a defendant had hit her and threatened her in order to force her into prostitution, and had also taken her ID card.
The police found during their enquiry, that three of the defendants often visited a restaurant, where one of the defendants was seen with some of the victims. The victims would come and sit at the same table as the defendant and would give him something under the table.
The defendants constantly controlled and monitored the victims and their work. During their observation of the defendants and their operation, the police witnessed how one of the defendants went to talk to one of the victims while she was on the street after midnight. The defendant talked to the victim, left and returned later in the night and argued with another victim. That same defendant came back a third time to observe a third victim.
On the same day, another defendant was dropped off at the same place and entered the restaurant. Another defendant joined him. One hour later one of them left the restaurant with a baton in his hand and came back one minute later. Five minutes later a third defendant arrived and joined them at their table.
Thanks to the telephone tapping, the police listened to a conversation between two of the defendants on November, 7. From that conversation, it appears that three of the defendants were responsible for the surveillance of the victims. As to the role of the fourth defendant, one of the witnesses declared that he was very good friends with one of the defendants, and that he also participated watching the victims in the street. He would also regularly change his mobile phone SIM card.One of the victims stated that this fourth defendant was also exploiting prostitutes himself. Even though the trial witness did not confirm this affirmation, it is supported by a recording of a phone conversation between two other defendants on November 10.Show more
- BEL030Case No. 2012/3925
- BelgiumVerdict Date: 2012-11-05Sentence Date : 2012-11-05
The company Carestel manages the motorway services in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. It concluded a contract with the company Kronos, based in Germany, concerning the cleaning of the toilets on the motorway rest area. Kronos is responsible for hiring and managing the employees cleaning the toilets.
Several inspections led by the labour inspection services found that the people working in the toilets were working sometimes 15 hours per day, 7 days a week, and received a very small salary. The employees were all foreign nationals, with no knowledge of the Dutch language, most of them coming from eastern Europe. They had signed a contract with Kronos that they were not able to understand, most of them were not able to say whether they were working as employees or as independent workers.
Kronos organised its activities so that employees were living in a house belonging to the company, someone from Kronos would drive each of the employees to a rest area in the morning and pick them up in the evening. The employees took a few cents from each client going into the toilets, and put the money in a safe. An employee from Kronos came every week or several times a week to take the money.Show more
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