The parents of Mawda, the two-year-old killed when shots were fired during a police chase, have been given leave to remain in Belgium indefinitely, migration minister Sammy Mahdi confirmed.
Mawda and her Iraqi-Kurdish family were among a group of migrants being brought by traffickers through Belgium to the United Kingdom in May 2018 when the van they were in was chased by police. One shot was fired, and hit Mawda, being carried in the front seat. She died at the scene.
In the meantime, Mawda’s parents were granted temporary leave to remain in Belgium to allow them to follow the legal case as civil parties. Now it has been revealed that Mahdi granted permanent leave in December, as the conclusion of the court case approached.
“Those parents had to bury their child here,” Mahdi said.
“For that reason we should try to give those people the peace they deserve. It is true that the parents may have made some choices that I don’t really understand. But apart from that, their child lies buried here. And we have to realise that they also want to be able to see her grave from time to time.”
The decision was a matter of ministerial discretion, he explained.
“The procedures are clear, anyone can apply for asylum and anyone can apply for international protection. There are rules around that. But apart from those rules, there are exceptional humanitarian rules, because you have to be able to intervene in some specific cases. That happens in every government,” he said.
What matters now, he said, is to ensure such incidents never happen again, and that will require a thorough reconsideration of asylum policy.
“Everything stands or falls with a new model, because the European asylum and migration model is simply bankrupt,” he said.
“Ever since the great asylum crisis of 2015, Europe has been planning to work on it very quickly. We are now in 2021, and there have been some talks, but we are still not a step further. In the meantime, we must do what we can at Belgian level, and that is to inform people as well as possible. Many of the transmigrants we see have the right to stay here in Belgium, but they don’t want that because Great Britain is seen as the land of milk and honey,” he said.