Wednesday 15 July 2020

State does not have to repatriate jihadi wives and children: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court building in The Hague. Photo: Bas Kijzers / Rijksvastgoedbedrijf via Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch state does not have to bring either 23 women who joined jihadi movements in Syria or their 56 children back to the Netherlands, the Supreme Court said on Friday.

The decision is in line with the recommendations made by the advocate general in April.

The court said appeal court judges in The Hague were right when they said 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 court said.

In addition, the court said, repatriating the women could endanger national security and the officials who were involved in fetching them. The fact that the women had travelled to Syria out of free will also a factor to take into account.

The government has said it will not actively try to bring Dutch nationals back because it is too dangerous for civil servants to make the trip. The issue has divided the cabinet and both the VVD and CDA are opposed to bringing back the children, most of whom are under the age of 6.

A lawyer for the women told the NRC that the verdict is disappointing. The current situation in the camps is ‘particularly damaging’ for the children, the lawyer said in a statement.

The legal team are now considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights, which is currently considering a similar case involving France.

Earlier this week, the Telegraaf said that a group of Dutch women had escaped from the camp and taken refuge in a villa in Idlib. They are said to be awaiting a chance to cross the border with Turkey.

That border is currently closed but if they do make it across, they can appeal to the Dutch embassy and possibly return to the Netherlands.

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