Lawyers representing the mothers of ten children born to fathers who were members of IS have assigned bailiffs to force the government to pay a fine of €5,000 a day for every day it fails to organise the children’s return to Belgium.
The government was ordered in December to provide documents and make arrangements for the children to be brought back to Belgium within six weeks. If it did not do so, it would be fined €5,000 per child per day – a bill of €50,000 a day. The government decided to appeal the ruling.
The deadline imposed by the court has now passed, and in an effort to force the government to comply with the court order, the lawyers for the mothers – who have not been given permission to return to Belgium – have called in the bailiffs.
“We’ll accept no more compromises,” they told De Standaard. “We will go on to the bitter end in the interests of these ten children. There is no more time to lose. The children are at this moment in very precarious circumstances in the Al Hol camp in Syria.”
In the beginning, the Belgian government said it would take the necessary measures to bring the children back. However that proved more difficult than expected. The camp where the children are being held is in Kurdish territory, and a diplomat sent to arrange the children’s return was not allowed access. The government then chose to appeal the ruling, which does not in any case suspend its terms.
Bailiffs will today call on the offices of justice minister Koen Geens and foreign minister Philippe Goffin, where they will place a possession order on anything that is not required for the offices to function – the art on the walls, for example. If that is not sufficient, they could later decide to seize vehicles. The outstanding bill currently stands at more than half a million euros.
“We have no other option,” said lawyer Abderrahim Lahlali. “We have seen not a single serious initiative from the Belgian government to comply with the ruling of the court.”
The lawyers, in the meantime, have filed an appeal of their own against the judgement, which rejected a plea for the children’s mothers to be repatriated as well.