November 08, 2021Counter-Terrorism Repatriation Gender Citizenship International Security and Rule of Law Marginalised and vulnerable groups Accountability and Access to Justice
On 8 November Rights & Security International (RSI) submitted expert evidence to an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trafficked Britons in Syria.
The APPG exists to ensure that the UK fulfils its obligations to British nationals trafficked by Daesh by identifying who they are, considering their repatriation to the UK, preventing them being subjected to torture and the death penalty, investigating Daesh trafficking operations, learning lessons to prevent future trafficking by terrorist groups, and identifying and learning from the failures that have led to the present situation.
Since late 2019, RSI has been researching the situation of third-country nationals (i.e. non-Syrians and non-Iraqis) - including Britons - living in al Hol and Roj camps in northeast Syria, which are facilities for women and chidlren with alleged ties to Islamic State (IS). We have published two detailed research-based reports calling for the repatriation of children and women from the camps.
On this basis, we provided expert evidence in response to several of the terms of reference of the APPG's inquiry.
Our written comments provide evidence of the dire conditions in the detention camps, which may have worsened further due to COVID-19, and the threats of violence and separation faced by women and children. In our view, the resulting vulnerability of the women and children has increased the risk of trafficking from or within the camps. We conclude that the cumulative impact of these conditions and threats rises to the threshold of torture and violates the rights to life of the women and children held in the camps.
In addition, we assess the UK government’s apparent two-pronged policy of (1) depriving adult women in the camps of their British citizenship and (2) not repatriating anyone to the UK except for the few unaccompanied minors and orphans. We conclude that these policies, insofar as we can discern them, effectively leave women and children abandoned in northeast Syria to suffering and to face threats to their lives. These policies also have discriminatory effects. We are concerned that the UK government’s approach does not appear to include formal investigations of the possibility that individual women or children in the camps are or may become victims of trafficking.
Our full submissions can be downloaded, below.
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