Antwerp – A hotel on the Koningin Astridplein in Antwerp has to close its doors for three weeks for facts related to the sexual exploitation of minor teenage girls. This was decided by Mayor Bart De Wever on the basis of findings made during various police checks. It’s about Hotel Monico.

It is the second time that a hotel is closed in Antwerp for that reason. At the end of last year, a hotel in the “Plaatsnijdersstraat” was closed after similar facts.

In January 2018, several persons were convicted by the criminal court for human trafficking in relation to a minor girl who had to prostitute herself at the hotel. “As a result of these facts, the hotel was informed of the obligation to carry out an identity check”, according to a press release from the Bart De Wever Cabinet. “A comprehensive registration system for customer identity is a minimum requirement for operating a hotel. Ensuring access control is also necessary so that hotel staff can contact the police if prostitution is established or suspected. “

Minor girl to other rooms

Between September and November last year, the police checked the Hotel Monico several times. During a check at the end of September, the receptionist stated that a minor girl was in the hotel the night before. “From camera images it became clear that the minor went to other rooms during the night. The identity of the men who stayed in these rooms was not registered. “

In October, the police had a sensitization meeting with the brother of the new owner of the hotel, which once again highlighted the requirements to be able to use a hotel. In November, the police carried out a new inspection in collaboration with the Labor Inspectorate. “In a room two underage girls were found in the presence of several other persons. As a result, the police issued an official report based on suspicions of exploitation. “

‘Absolutely no escort’

The owner and operator were heard in January 2019 about the facts by the City’s administrative enforcement department. During the hearing, the manager stated that certain measures would be taken to ban prostitution and sexual exploitation in the hotel. A guideline ‘Absolutely no escort’ would be posted to the reception for this. There would also be renovation works and from now on the hotel would use an online booking system.

“Under Article 135 of the New Municipal Act, an establishment may be temporarily closed administratively if the public order is jeopardized. The mayor ruled that this applies to the hotel on Astridplein. At the hotel there is at least a serious suspicion of sexual exploitation of minors, which becomes clear through various checks and earlier judgment of the correctional court. The hotel can also insufficiently demonstrate that thorough steps are taken to register the identity of hotel guests and to control visitor access, in particular of minors “, according to De Wever.

The mayor therefore decided to impose a three-week closure on Hotel Monico. “The hotel must use this period to take the necessary measures. The closure must also have a dissuasive effect on perpetrators and other parties involved. ”