Belgium 1831 Constitution

Table of Contents

TITLE II. Belgians and their Rights

Article 4

Belgian citizenship is acquired, preserved or lost according to rules determined by the civil law.

The present Constitution and the other laws relative to political rights shall determine what other conditions than citizenship are necessary in order to exercise these rights.

Article 5

Naturalization shall be granted by the legislative authority.

Only supreme naturalization shall give to the foreigner the same privilege as the Belgians in the exercise of political rights.

Article 6

In the State, there shall be no distinction of order.

All Belgians are equal before the law; they alone are admitted to civil and military employments, with such exceptions as may be established by law for particular cases.

Article 7

Individual liberty is guaranteed.

No one can be prosecuted, except in the cases specified by law and in the form which it prescribes. Save when taken in the act, no one shall be arrested except by virtue of an order issued by a judge. It shall be shown at the time of the arrest, or not later than twenty-four hours thereafter.

Article 8

No one shall be deprived, against his will, of the judge whom the law assigns him.

Article 9

No penalty shall be established or enforced except by law.

Article 10

The home is inviolable. No search shall be made except in cases provided for by law and in the form which it prescribes.

Article 11

No one shall be deprived of his property except for public use and then only in the cases and in the manner provided for by law; and a just indemnity, to be ascertained beforehand, shall be paid.

Article 12

The penalty of the confiscation of goods shall not be established.

Article 13

Civil death is hereby abolished; it shall not be re-established, i.e., legal deprivation of all civil rights a favorite form of punishment.

Article 14

The freedom of religions, their public exercise, as well as the liberty of expressing their opinions on every matter, are guaranteed; reserving the right of repressing crimes committed in the exercise of these liberties.

Article 15

No one shall be compelled to observe in any manner whatsoever, the rites and ceremonies of any form of religion, nor be required to observe days of rest.

Article 16

The State shall not have the right to interfere in the nomination nor in the installation of the ministers of any religious body, nor to prohibit these ministers from corresponding with their superiors, and publishing their acts; reserving in the last case the ordinary responsibility for press matter and publication.

Civil marriage must always precede the religious marriage with such exceptions as may be established by law.

Article 17

Public education shall be free; every preventive measure is prohibited. The repression of crime alone shall be regulated by law.

Public instruction given at the expense of the State shall also be regulated by law.

Article 18

The press is free; no censorship shall ever be established, nor can writers, editors or printers be required to give bonds.

When the author is known, and resides in Belgium, the editor, printer or news agent cannot be prosecuted.

Article 19

All Belgians shall have the right to assemble peaceably and without arms, conforming themselves to the laws which may regulate the exercise of this right, but without being obliged to obtain permission beforehand.

This regulation does not apply to open air meetings, which are entirely under police regulation.

Article 20

Belgians shall have the right to form associations; this right cannot be suppressed by any preventive measure.

Article 21

Each individual shall have the right to address to the public authorities, petitions signed by one or more persons.

Only the constituted authorities have the right to address petitions in a collective name.

Article 22

The secrecy of the mails shall be inviolable.

The law shall determine who are the responsible agents in the violation of the secrecy of the mails.

Article 23

The use of the languages spoken in Belgium is optional. It can be regulated by law alone, and then only in the cases of documentary acts of public authority and for judicial affairs.

Article 24

No previous authorization is necessary to begin suits against public officials for the acts of their administration, with such exceptions as may be made regarding the Ministers.