July 06, 2022Featured Article
RSI welcomes the news that France has repatriated 51 of its detained nationals from northeast Syria. This long-awaited endeavour shows that the international community cannot continue to fail to protect the lives and rights of their nationals held in the camps when repatriation efforts are clearly possible and are a human rights imperative.
When countries fail to act, lives are at risk. Over the last 18 months alone, the UN has reported more than 100 murders in al Hol camp. In December 2021, the New York Times reported that a 28-year-old Frenchwoman had died in Roj camp due to a lack of access to adequate healthcare, though she and her lawyer repeatedly requested she be repatriated to treat her severe diabetes. She left behind a six-year-old daughter in the camp.
While France’s repatriation on Tuesday of 35 children and 16 women is a significant step in the right direction, we cannot forget the thousands of children and women who continue to suffer inhuman living conditions that we have found amount to torture. Before Tuesday’s repatriation, there were an estimated 200 French children and 100 French women remaining in the camps. Since 2019, the UK has only repatriated nine children, leaving an estimated 60 British children and 15 British women in the camps.
RSI continues to advocate for the rights of those detained in northeast Syria. In July 2021, we intervened in the European Court of Human Rights case, H.F. and M.F. v. France, arguing for the repatriation of two Frenchwomen and their young children from the camps on the basis that their continued detention violated their rights not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. A decision is yet to be handed down by the Court.
Emily Ramsden, Senior Officer on Migration and Citizenship at RSI said, “Countries must continue to increase their repatriation efforts. The humanitarian and security conditions in camps, prisons, and other detention facilities in northeast Syria makes safe return and rehabilitation of children, women, and men a human rights imperative.”
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