A judicial investigation had rocked Europe in December last year and sent shockwaves to Europe involving plausible bribery implicating MEPs on the charge of receiving vast sums of money and gifts from a wealthy Gulf state. The “Persian Gulf country” was arguably plotting to influence the political and economic decisions of the European Parliament, an issue that had garnered bandwidth across Belgium and the EU.
Qatar was accused of channelling money to cultivate a positive image of the country. However, the Qatari government unequivocally denied any engagement in the scandal and stated that any misconduct accusation is unfounded and contrived. Instead, Qatar imputed the blame on its regional adversaries for plotting the scandal. Analysts cautioned about a smear campaign launched against Qatar aimed at tarnishing the image of Qatar when the country attracted global attention for hosting the football world cup. The media reaction was exaggerated and transmitted false and fabricated claims.
The Qatargate incident raised much uproar in Belgium’s political sphere and media. However, it has been proved to be a travesty staged solely to accrue gains by a Belgian judge- infamous for his unabashed judicial populism. The much-vaunted scandal unpacks the arbitrariness of the judicial and police powers. The scandal had set in a political charade-where arbitrariness reigned supreme.
Under the cloak of judicial independence, the judge had issued fiat and decrees that indiscriminately imposed judicial fetters on the citizens-at, at odds with the principles of independence that the judge professed.
If such arbitrary power is bestowed to a judge unconstrained by any restraints, these powers will be exploited to serve the parochial interests. The Qatargate scandal is a glaring display of how judicial power can be weaponized to serve parochial interests.
The investigation into the Qatargate affair is far from rigorous and contravenes the rule of law. Such populist rhetoric thrives on the vilification of an enemy through contrived leaks on partisan and biased media-all in an attempt to evoke mass hysteria for manipulating the public. The plotters mobilize judicial, political, and media clout to spew propaganda against the victim.
The general people remain gullible to the intrigue. The mass remains susceptible to appearances and lacks discerning eyes to unravel the plot. The media machine incessantly feeds such partisan plots to sensitize people to a particular narrative irrespective of how tenuous it sounds when laid bare of its trappings. The adventures of a judge beguiled the general people. They pointed their ire against the Eurocrats and harboured suspicions against the Qataris, who had the chutzpa to hobnob with diplomats of the European Union. The judge garnered much attention and claimed headlines through his preposterous mendacity, and the public was ensnared in flawed narratives.
However, when the cases are unpacked-the lack of material evidence, rigour, and substance is revealed. The cases were solely aimed at manipulating the police and judicial apparatus and infuriating public rage. As a result, justice remains elusive, where shenanigans of the partisan judges reign supreme, and alternative and reasoned voices are muffled.
Judges indulge in sacrosanct status and sympathy in Belgium. However, the discretionary power entrusted to Justice is often contorted into arbitrary power. The rule of law was dismantled in Belgium, and the country and administration were stripped of moral uprightness in counselling about transparency, corruption, and virtues.
Although Belgium harbours a dream of becoming the “policeman of the world, ” its authority is questioned when it lacks judicial rigour, legal prudence, and diplomatic means. The neocolonialist agenda of expanding Belgium’s judicial tentacles will face a bleak future. Still, there are judges in Belgium that hold fast to the principles of fairness and justice. To establish itself as paradigmatic in the global judiciary, Belgium needs to rid itself of the unscrupulous elements of its judicial
The judicial proceedings of the Qatargate scandal had laid bare the shaky grounds for judicial fairness in Belgium. This erodes Qatar’s reputation, which prides itself as the epitome of fairness in Europe. The Qatargate debacle was doomed from the beginning and was a contrived tale of political intrigue aimed at tainting the reputation of Qatar. Such machination is a cautionary tale for the future stability and reputation of the judicial system in Belgium.