Breakthrough for Belgian Asbestos Victims
People suffering from asbestos-related diseases in Belgium have, on the whole, remained uncompensated for their illnesses because of a hostile judicial climate and restrictive national laws. On June 19, 2002, two Belgian Senators announced proposals for an indemnisation fund for asbestos victims. Senators Alain Destexhe and Johan Malcorps deplored their country’s system which refused compensation for occupational diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. They commented that many countries, such as France and the Netherlands, have created systems specifically to compensate asbestos sufferers; it was unjust that only a minority of Belgian asbestos victims receive compensation currently. For this reason, they are proposing the creation of a National Asbestos Fund which will recognize the debt owed by the country to these victims and compensate them for their injuries.
Xavier Jonckheere, the President of the Belgian Asbestos Victims Group (ABEVA) welcomed the proposals saying: "This is a first step towards the recognition of the damage caused by asbestos to the people of this country. The proposed bill should provide a synthesis of the systems that exist in France and in the Netherlands. It could be the starting point of a unified - at the European level - set of rules for the compensation of all asbestos victims."
July 8, 2002