The following story provides some of the background for the essay by H. Numan that I posted earlier this evening.
Court: State must make effort to bring 56 children back from Syria
November 11, 2019
The Dutch state must make efforts to bring 56 children and possibly their 19 mothers out of Syria to the Netherlands. That was the ruling of the court in the Hague in a summary proceeding on Monday.
Judgment on taking back Islamic State children
Their mothers can only be brought back if there is no other option.
The government must take action within 14 days
The summary proceeding was brought due to the acute danger in the camps in Syria.
The Netherlands has the duty to make efforts to bring back IS children
According to the court, The Netherlands cannot be forced to repatriate the children because of the danger due to the unstable situation in Syria.
“The State does not need to take unnecessary security risks, but it must take advantage of all possibilities, such as help provided by the Americans,” according to the court.
That means that the Dutch government does what is in its power. If the government says that it is not possible, it must show evidence that it has done everything possible.
That means, according to the attorney Andre Seebregts, who represents the majority of plaintiffs, that the Netherlands, within the mandated time of 14 days, must make contact with the Kurds as well as the Americans.
The Kurds maintain control over the camps where the women and children are kept. The Americans have let it be known that they want them to be taken to the Netherlands.
Women only taken back if there is no other option
A total of 23 women have brought summary proceedings against the state because they and their children are in acute danger. The court recognizes the danger and speaks of a “harrowing situation.” In the case of the women, they must only be brought back if the Kurds only allow the children to go with their mothers.
The women do not have the inherent right to be brought back to the Netherlands because they traveled to Syria with full understanding and joined with the Islamic State, a terrorist organization, said the court. The children are the victims of the actions of their parents.
Four of the 23 women have no children. “For them it is a sad story,” Seebregts emphasizes.
Cabinet wants women tried in the region
The Cabinet wants the women to be tried in the region, and the court found that the Netherlands has the right to find out if that is possible. Whether regional trials in Iraq can be accomplished is still a question. The Iraqi minister for foreign affairs says that the country is not yet prepared to try Dutch IS members. According to Minister Stef Blok (Foreign Affairs), negotiations with Baghdad are continuing.
The chance that women will also come is “fairly large”
Seebregts says that the chance is fairly large that women will also be brought back because the Kurds have always made it clear that they want to deliver the women together with the children. “Just like the Americans, the Turks, and the Russians,” said the counsel.
The women and children at this moment are situated in the Al Hol and Al Roj prison camps in Northeast Syria. The Al Roj camp lies in the security zone wanted by Turkey.
Cabinet does not want to take back travelers due to danger
According to current cabinet policy, Dutch travelers are not actively being brought back from Syria. The cabinet does not want to put Dutch officials in danger by sending them to an unsafe area.
It is different if Dutch citizens themselves report to the Dutch embassy, as two women and their three children recently did in the Turkish city of Ankara.
One of the women is of Dutch nationality. The other woman will probably return to the Netherlands, though Turkey must first decide if she will be prosecuted there.
Women will be held upon arrival
If the government succeeds in bringing the women to the Netherlands, then they will be immediately arrested and placed in the terrorist section of Vught (prison). All persons who are known to have traveled from the Netherlands to the war zones in Syria and Iraq will be criminally investigated. The children will, in turn, be cared for and monitored by the Child Protection Service. This counsel will ultimately advise where the children can best be placed.
Higher appeal is still possible, but the Netherlands, in the meantime, is required to take action.