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d. Any member, without reference to the legal basis of his membership, who may be condemned by the regular courts to prison or to imprisonment at hard labor, or for a crime or misdemeanor committed for the purpose of gain, or who has lost his citizenship. ART. 11. The right is not lost but its exercise is suspended:

a. During the time for which a member has been condemned by the regular courts to a suspension of political rights on account of a crime or misdemeanor not coming within Article 10, Clause d.

b. During the period of bankruptcy of those who become bankrupt.

c. During the continuance of guardianship of those who have been placed under guardianship, except in cases of guardianship because of prodigality or absence.

d. For hereditary members, during the session in the course of which it is decided, in accordance with Article 19 of this law, that they have lost the property qualification of membership.

ART. 12. When a person, who is a member of the Table of Magnates by virtue of Article 4, Section A or Section B, Clauses a and b, or of Article 5, is elected a representative and accepts such election, he shall cease to be a member of the Table of Magnates; but as soon as the office of a representative is ended, those mentioned in Article 4, Section B, Clauses a and i, shall at once regain their

membership in the Table of Magnates and may exercise it in the į next session. The other members of the Table of Magnates men

tioned in this paragraph may recover their membership in accordance with Articles 4 and 5.

Should the ecclesiastical and lay dignitaries mentioned in Article 4, Section B, Clause c, be elected as representatives and accept such election, the senior one of their colleagues who is not already a member of the Upper House shall take the place and hold it, while he lives and fills the office, even though the person, whose place he occupies, ceases to be a representative.

Should a hereditary member of the Table of Magnates be elected a representative and accept such election, he shall not exercise his rights of membership in the Table of Magnates during the term of his office as representative, and should he resign the office of representative during the course of a session, his membership in the Table of Magnates does not revive until the following session.

Every member of the Table of Magnates who is elected a representative is bound, after the verification of his election, to inform the president of the Table of Magnates whether or not he has accepted such election; the president shall bring this information to the knowledge of the House.



The Protocol of 21 June 1814 1 united Belgium with Holland, and the Constitutional Law of the Netherlands, promulgated on 27 August 1815, was therefore common to the two countries until the Belgian Revolution of 25 August 1830. A National Congress of Belgians was convened on 10 November 1830, but even before it met, the provisional government of Brussels, by decrees of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 14 October 1830, named a committee of twelve to prepare an outline of a Constitution. This committee declared itself in favor of the adoption of a constitutional monarchy as the form of government. The National Congress proclaimed the independence of Belgium on 18 November, and adopted the monarchial form of government and the bicameral system of representation on 22 November. The Constitution was drafted on the basis of the outline adopted by the committee of twelve and was passed in its entirety on 7 February 1831, which is the date officially given to it, although it was not promulgated until 11 February.* Leopold of Saxe-Coburg became King in June of the same year. The Belgian Constitution of 1831 remained unaltered for over 60 years, and proposals for its revision were rejected by large majorities in 1871, 1883 and 1887.

In 1892, however, the three powers of the State united in asking for the revision of 13 articles of the constitution, the special object of the reform being the electoral system of the two houses. New houses were elected on 14 June following, in conformity with Article 131 of the Constitution. A series of decrees, all dated 7 September 1893, promulgated the text of the revised articles.5

In accordance with a treaty signed at Brussels on 28 November 1907, the administration of Congo Free State was taken over by Belgium, and, by a royal decree of 4 November 1908, 15 November was fixed as the date for the actual assumption of the exercise of the sovereign rights. On 18 October 1908? a separate Constitutional Law for the Congo was sanctioned by the King.S

1 Signed at Vienna on 14 June and approved at Paris on 21 June. French text in MARTENS, Nouveau Recueil, supp., 1: p. 330; English translation in HERTSLET, Map of Europe by Treaty, vol, I (London, 1875), p. 40.

French text in British and Foreign State Papers, 3: pp. 16-43, with Proclamation on pages 43-45.

* French text of the Proclamation in British and Foreign State Papers, 17: p. 1241. * French text of the Proclamation in British and Foreign State Papers, 18: p. 1052.

* French text of the decrees, each of which contains one revised article, in British and Foreign State Papers, 85 : pp. 783-788.

* French text in British and Foreign State Papers, 100: pp. 705-706.

- French text of the Law of 18 October 1908 in British and Foreign State Papers, 101 : Vp. 733-742, and F. R. DARESTE ET P. DARESTE, Les Constitutions modernes (Paris, 1910), Vol 1, pp. 98-104. * These introductory paragraphs are based on DARESTE, op cit., pp. 73 and 96-97.




ARTICLE 1.2 Belgium is divided into provinces.

These provinces are: Antwerp, Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders, Hainaut, Liège, Limbourg, Luxembourg, Namur.

If there should be occasion for it, the territory may be divided by law into a greater number of provinces.

The colonies, possessions beyond the sea, or protectorates which Belgium may acquire shall be governed by special laws. The Belgian forces required for their defense shall be recruited only by voluntary enlistment.

ART. 2. Subdivisions of the provinces shall not be made except by law.

ART. 3. The boundaries of the State, of the provinces and of the communes shall not be changed or rectified except by law.


Art. 4. Belgian nationality is acquired, retained and lost according to regulations established by the civil law.

The present Constitution and the other laws relating to political rights determine what other conditions are necessary for the exercise of these rights.

Art. 5. Naturalization is granted by the legislative power.

Full naturalization alone admits foreigners to equality with Belgians in the exercise of political rights."

ART. 6. There shall be no distinction of classes in the State.

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

Art. 7. Individual liberty is guaranteed.

No one may be prosecuted except in cases provided for by law and in the form therein prescribed.

1 Translation based upon W. F. DODD, Modern Constitutions (Chicago, 1909), vol. I, pp. 126–148, which is based in part on the translation of J. M. VINCENT and A. S. VINCENT in the Supplement to the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciencees, Nay, 1896 (Philadelphia, 1896), pp. 309–333. English translation (by Francis B. Lee) of the Constitution of 1831 without the amendments of 1893 appears in Foreign Constitutions (The Convention Manual of the Sixth New York State Constitutional Convention, 1894, part 2, vol. 3] (Albany, 1894), pp. 35–54. French translation in DARESTE, op. cit., pp. 74–95, and PAUL POSENER, Die Staatsverfassungen des Erdballs (Charlottenburg, 1909), pp. 2–16.

2 As amended 7 September 1893. The boundaries of the Kingdom of Belgium were definitively fixed by the treaty of 19 April 1839. The provision regarding colonies was introduced in 1893 to give the government power to administer the Congo Free State when it should become a Belgian possession.

3 Laws of 6 August 1881 and 25 March 1894.

Except when one is taken in the commission of an offense no one may be arrested without a warrant issued by a magistrate, which ought to be shown at the time of arrest, or at the latest within 24 hours thereafter.1

ART. 8. No person shall be removed against his will from the jurisdiction of the judge to whom the law assigns him.

Art. 9. No penalty shall be established or enforced except by virtue of a law.

Art. 10. The private domicile is inviolable; no search of premises shall take place except in the cases provided for by law and according to the form therein prescribed.

Art. 11. No one may be deprived of his property except for a.public purpose and according to the forms established by law, and in consideration of a just compensation previously determined.

Art. 12. Punishment by confiscation of property shall not be established.

Art. 13. Total deprivation of civil rights (mort civile) is abolished and shall not be reestablished.2

Art. 14. Religious liberty and the freedom of public worship, as well as free expression of opinion in all matters, are guaranteed, with the reservation of power to suppress offenses committed in the use of these liberties.

Art. 15. No one shall be compelled to join in any manner whatever in the forms or ceremonies of any religious denomination, nor to observe its days of rest.

Art. 16. The State shall not interfere either in the appointment or in the installation of the ministers of any religious denomination whatever, nor shall it forbid them to correspond with their superiors or to publish their proceedings, subject, in the latter case, to the ordinary responsibility of the press and of publication.

Civil marriage shall always precede the religious ceremony, except in cases to be established by law if found necessary.

ART. 17. Private instruction shall not be restricted; all measures interfering with it are forbidden; the repression of offenses shall be be regulated by law.

Public instruction given at the expense of the State shall likewise be regulated by law.3

Art. 18. The press is free; no censorship shall ever be established; no security shall be exacted of writers, publishers, or printers.*

1 Law of 20 April 1874, amended 30 May 1889. ? La mort cirile is abolished as a punishment by itself. The condition follows as a secoudary consequence of condemnation to death, hard labor, or transportation for life.

* Laws of 20 September 1884 and 15 September 1893 on primary instruction ; Law of 1 June 1850 on secondary education, amended 15 June 1881 ; Laws of 27 September 1833 and 15 July 1849 on higher education; and Laws of 10 April 1890 and 3 July 1891 on the conferring of academic degrees.

* See also Articles 96 and 98 which relate to trials of offenses of the press.

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