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    Family of toddler shot dead by police may stay in the country

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The family of Mawda Shawri, the two-year-old shot dead by police during a car chase as they were entering the country illegally, have been granted a residence permit to allow them to stay in Belgium for at least a year, migration minister Maggie De Block has decided. The Kurdish parents, their son and the child were in a van with a number of other migrants, being driven into Belgium by human traffickers in May last year. Police gave chase, and when the van refused to stop, a police officer fired a shot aimed at the van’s tyres. However the shot missed and instead pierced the van and killed Mawda.

    Police were later condemned for firing shots from one moving vehicle towards another, knowing there were people on board.

    In a press release, De Block’s ministry explained the family (photo) had been granted a humanitarian visa valid for one year initially, which can be renewed. The leave to stay will allow the family “to follow the judicial investigation in complete serenity,” the ministry said.

    De Block told VRT News: “I only approve a humanitarian visa in exceptional circumstances and for very specific cases. This family qualifies on every level. Mawda was shot before the eyes of her parents and brother, and died in their arms. They lost a child in unusual circumstances, and losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a person. And the judicial investigation into who was responsible is still going on.”

    De Block was responding to a court order that the family be allowed to remain in Belgium to be present at any trial which may result from the death of their child. The judge also ordered the social aid agency of the commune of Woluwe-St-Lambert to take charge of the family, who have until now been looked after by the activist group Plateforme Citoyenne.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times