The cabinet has been given three months to show it is making an effort to repatriate five Dutch women from Kurdish prison camps in Syria so that they can attend their trials on terrorism charges in person, broadcaster NOS has reported.
The women have been campaigning since 2018 for their cases to be dropped because they are not able to be in court, as is their right in Dutch law.
The court said that the cabinet must be able to explain why repatriating them was not an option or face having the charges cancelled, NOS said. This means they could never face legal action for their role with IS in the Netherlands.
Eight other cases will be considered in detail at a later date.
‘This has been going on for years,’ the women’s lawyer Andre Seebregts told NOS. ‘The court ordered the state to bring them back years ago if possible and it now seems as if the state has done nothing in all that time.’
The women are all suspected of being members of a terrorist organisation and taking part in terrorist acts.
The cabinet has always said it is too dangerous to bring the women back from the camps, but in June it did repatriate Ilham B, from Gouda, along with her two children, so she can be put on trial.
According to the latest figures from the AIVD security agency, there are some 30 Dutch women in two camps in northern Syria, with 75 children.
However, ministers admitted on Tuesday that 15 Dutch women who joined IS forces during the Syrian civil war escaped from Kurdish detention camps in the past year.
And justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs last week that he cannot rule out more women being repatriated. ‘We look at it on a case-by-case basis,’ Grapperhaus said during a debate on the secret operation last month to bring back Ilham B.
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