Calls for the repatriation of European citizens detained in Syria

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called on the organization’s member states to “bring back their citizens detained in camps in northeastern Syria” in conditions contrary to European humanitarian law.

Citizens of states that have signed the European Human Rights Convention “are subject to the jurisdiction of these states detainees in these camps,” Dunja Mijatovic said in his observation sent to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The latter is due in September to investigate the cases of young women who went on to join the jihadist organization Islamic State (IS), and are now in custody with their children in Syria.
The verdict will be pronounced after several months. “The existing state of health and safety (in these camps) endangers the life and physical and mental health of those detained there, especially children, and is subject to the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment as prescribed in Article 3. may not be compatible with the Convention”, explains the Commissioner.

According to him, “the only way for state parties to fulfill their obligation to take measures to prevent the people under their jurisdiction from being subjected to “inhuman or degrading” treatment is to return their citizens”. “The refusal of some State Parties to do so is likely to hinder the effective exercise of the right to respect the private and family life of these persons”, Ms Mijatovic continues. “The removal of all foreign children from the camps is an absolute and imperative priority,” he said, emphasizing that “their mothers should be brought back with them”.

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Nearly 200 children and 80 French women have been detained in camps in the north-east of the Kurdish-controlled country since the fall of the Islamic State group’s “caliphate” in Syria in March 2019. Paris has so far maintained a case-by-case return policy for these children – 35, mostly orphans, have been repatriated by now – and believes adults should be tried on the spot.

Recently, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands have returned home. Denmark and Belgium, for their part, have announced that they are preparing for the return of their children.

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