Why should the children of French jihadists be returned?

In the name of children’s rights and protection, France has a duty – and authority – to repatriate those living in camps in northeastern Syria.

Marie Doucet, lawyer

On February 24, 2022, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned France for violating the International Convention on the Rights of the Child by keeping 200 children between barbed wire and directly subjecting them to inhuman and degrading treatment. Basically, the UN panel states, our country is indeed responsible for keeping these children and their mothers in “Children’s Guantanamo” in northeastern Syria, because the President of the Republic has the authority to bring them home and refuses to do so. . So our country chooses to make innocent people pay for their parents’ mistake.

In 2019, Emmanuel Macron participated with great fanfare on the 30th anniversary of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and his speech was unanimously welcomed: “In fulfillment of its battles, France thirty years ago drafted, ratified and applied the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Today, it is still fighting for the ratification of this convention throughout the world.”

Sitting wisely beside the chief, 300 children listened to him without saying a word about their weakness and the need to protect them. Then Emmanuel Macron addressed them directly: “Know your rights, speak up, and freedom of speech. But these fights should not make you forget childhood innocence and happiness; the right to discover life, friendship and education. We have to help you grow.” Thousands of kilometers away, more than 200 French children shivered in makeshift tents in camps plagued by violence and disease, battling temperatures close to ten degrees below zero.

They do not have any “The right to discover life, friendship and education” Because there is no school and friendship is a luxury they cannot allow themselves. They survive as France decides to abandon them and watch their friends go home with their mothers. France does not help them grow, it helps them die. Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and many other European countries have chosen humanity and responsibility: they return the children with their mothers, as the Kurdish authorities have demanded for years.

“200 shivering children in camps plagued by violence and disease.”

In 2021, 97 European children and women returned home, including only 7 French children who were taken from their mothers. On December 14, 2021, a 6-year-old girl saw her mother die, she was very ill, and France refused to repatriate her for three years. Still alone in the camp, this little orphan made by France is left to her own devices, and France insists she be abandoned.

France is proud of promoting the Convention on the Rights of the Child abroad, which it frankly violates. However, these are the children who must be saved and protected first and foremost, because they are innocent of everything and victims of all. Shame, how far?

These children are not guilty of anything and should not pay for their parents’ crimes. France must respect its own law as well as international law.

Daniel Fuertet, Member of the International Relations Committee of the French Communist Party

Two hundred children and their mothers, 80 French women, held in Rojava, Syria, have waited for years in concentration camps until the French authorities decide to return them. These are the wives, or companions, and children of French jihadists and members of ISIS, who were fought and defeated by the Kurdish forces in Rojava and the Syrian Democratic Forces. Children and concubines were among the children and concubines of war who surrendered or were captured, often left behind as they fled.

If many of the wives or companions of these jihadists were, or even remained, as doctrinal recipients as their husbands, the children themselves would not be able to pay for their parents’ crimes. But keeping them in detention amounts to that. Despite the rights of the child and human rights. Leaving things as they are for these children when they are not guilty of anything is the creation of future adults who will likely have only one idea tomorrow: resentment. And for good reason, can you imagine life in a campground at the age of 5, 10, or 14? Although Kurdish forces respect international conventions, the living conditions in detention are not decent living conditions for children, for whom every adult must ensure their well-being and protection.

“At the age of 18, if nothing is done, they could face life in prison.”

Several NGOs, lawyers and rights advocates alerted the French authorities and spoke several times with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but to no avail. The fate of these children cannot be forgotten. As the counter-terrorism judges interviewed by the International Federation for Human Rights (Fidh) made clear, it is essential “International orders are being carried out in order to be able to try adults in France.”

The women are currently being held without legal process, as they were caught in a confrontation between Rojava and the French authorities. At the age of majority, 18, if nothing is done, these children could face life imprisonment. This situation amounts to collective punishment and could constitute a war crime, according to Human Rights Watch.

Countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands have begun to return their citizens. France remains deaf and does not apply international law, although it owes protection to its citizens, whatever their status. This blame stalemate is not on his credit.

France must take a decision to repatriate these children and their mothers, so that some of them may be tried and serve their sentences in France, and the children entrusted to their grandparents if they so desire. Child Care Services (ASE) in each department will organize reception for those who cannot find a home.

Nobody is above the law. France must also respect French law and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

For more UNICEF. International Convention on the Rights of the Child

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