The Public Safety Organization:
In 1840 the Belgian state, which was founded in 1830, entrusted the Public Safety (in Dutch: Openbare Veiligheid, in French: Sûreté Publique, in German:Öffentlichen Sicherheit) which was an autonomous board under the Minister of Justice, to monitor the aliens on its territory.
Note: Both Dutch, French and German are spoken in specific parts of Belgium as can be seen on the following map:
In order to preserve public order, the Public Safety Organization had to remove undesired aliens from Belgium’s territory. In order to be able to implement this order, they had to rely on the support from the municipal authorities who had in their turn to report each registration of any alien in the register of the municipality as soon as possible to the Public Safety.
This Public Safety organization would then decide whether the person could remain in the country. If this was the case, the Public Safety organization would keep a close eye on the alien citizen during his or her stay in Belgium. All authorities, including the army and the judiciary, were supposed to forward any document about the foreigner to the Public Safety Organization.
How was the information collected:
Most information was obviously gathered from aliens who voluntarily went to the municipalities to register. In addition, information was directly obtained by the police who found foreigners on Belgian territory and of foreigners that had to resort to the use of public services such as hospitals, etc.
Some files were opened on aliens even though they never reached Belgian territory. The organization opened these files preventively for “subversive” and possible criminal foreigners in order to be prepared in case they would enter Belgian territory.
When the foreigner in question passed away or Continue reading An introduction to the Belgian Statearchives and its immigration files