Tuesday 15 June 2021

Dutch government to appeal against IS children repatriation ruling

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The cabinet is to appeal against a court ruling ordering the Netherlands to do all it can to bring back IS children from Syrian prison camps.

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and foreign minister Stef Blok told MPs on Tuesday that the ruling raises a number of issues ‘which may not have been considered sufficiently, including international relationships’.

By appealing, the cabinet hopes to gain clarity on these issues, the ministers said in a short letter to MPs.

In the meantime, the government will start preparing to fulfill the court’s order to do its best to bring the children home, the ministers said.

Judges in The Hague said on Monday the Netherlands must ‘make all possible efforts’ to repatriate some 56 Dutch children in refugee camps in Northern Syria, but is not required to bring back their mothers unless that is unavoidable.

The children ‘did not opt ​​for the caliphate, but now they have to deal with torture, abuse and lack of facilities’ the court said in its ruling, giving the Netherlands two weeks to make progress on the issue.

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has reiterated that the US is willing to help bring the children, and their mothers, back to the Netherlands. ‘If the Netherlands asks for American help with repatriating the women and children, then we will do all we can to make that possible,’ Hoekstra told broadcaster NOS.

The issue has divided the cabinet and both minister’s parties – the VVD and CDA – are opposed to bringing the children, most of whom are under the age of 6, back.

‘We don’t want these children back,’ VVD MP Dilan Yesilgoz said. ‘It is dangerous to bring these children back.’ CDA parliamentarian Madeleine van Toorenburg said on Twittert the verdict was full of risks. ‘The parents will have the right of return through the children,’ she said. ‘I think we should focus on the victims of the genocide.’

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