The Netherlands should to bring back a further eight Dutch women and their children from Syria, or they will escape trial on terrorism charges, their lawyer André Seebregts has told Trouw.
This weekend, the Netherlands brought back one woman and her two children from a Kurdish camp after judges said her trial on terrorism charges would be abandoned unless she was in court personally, as she had requested.
Ilham B, from Gouda, and her children aged two and five arrived back in the Netherlands on Sunday morning after being picked up by Dutch officials. A 12 year old girl, taken from the Netherlands by her mother against her father’s will, was with them and will be reunited with her father.
B, who was arrested on her arrival back in the Netherlands, went to Syria in 2013 and faces charges of taking part in terrorist activities. Her children are now in the care of the child protection authorities.
Seebregts, who has personally visited the Al-Hol camp, represents eight other women and 25 children, all of whom also wish to be present at their trial. He told Trouw he will ask the courts to end the legal action against his clients unless they are brought to the Netherlands to appear in court personally, as is their right.
The Netherlands has consistently refused to help other Dutch nationals living in camps in Syria, saying it is too dangerous for officials to go there. Two orphans were brought out in 2019 by the French.
Ingrid Michon, from the ruling VVD, has described the decision to bring back B as a ‘very worrying development’ which goes against the wishes of parliament and against court rulings.
However, D66 MP Hanneke van der Werf said it is important that the IS women are tried before they disappear from the radar. In particular this is important for their children, who are living in terrible circumstances and are easy targets to be recruited by IS, she said.
Last June, the Dutch supreme court ruled that the decision about whether or not to bring back them back is a political rather than a human rights issue. Human rights treaties are not directly applicable to the women’s situation because they are outside the jurisdiction of the Netherlands, the supreme court said.
That case was brought by 23 women who joined jihadi movements in Syria who now have some 56 children between them.
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