November 09, 2019Counter-Terrorism Repatriation Accountability and Access to Justice
On 7 November 2019, RWUK attended the European Parliament (“EP”) Committee on Civil Justice, Liberty and Home Affairs’ meeting, “Exchange of views on the children of foreign fighters held in Syria and Iraq and possible return/repatriation.” The speakers were Marie-Dominique Parent (Human Rights Officer, Regional Office for Europe, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights), Christiane Höhn (Principal advisor, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator), Paul Van Tighelt (Director, Coordination Unit for Threat Analysis (OCAM) Belgium), and Jacqueline Hale (Head of EU Advocacy, Save the Children).
Following on from this meeting, on the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the EP voted in favor of resolution 2019/2876(RSP) on children’s rights. This resolution specifically covered the humanitarian situation of the children detained in northeast Syria, stating as follows:
“Expresses its gravest concern regarding the humanitarian situation of children of foreign fighters held in north-east Syria and urges the Member States to repatriate all European children, taking into account their specific family situations and the best interests of the child as a primary consideration, and to provide the necessary support for their rehabilitation and reintegration; deplores the lack of action hitherto of EU Member States and the absence of coordination at EU level.”
This adds another voice to calls for repatriation from European institutions. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights made a statement earlier in the year “urg[ing] Council of Europe member states to take all necessary measures to ensure the repatriation as a matter of urgency of their under-age nationals from the camp of Al-Hol.” The Commissioner further called on member states to repatriate the mothers from the camps “in order to safeguard the best interests of the children.”
Rights Watch (UK) prepared a briefing for parliamentarians prior to the meeting on the 7th. The briefing is embedded below.
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