Belgium repatriated six women and sixteen children from Syria to jihadists of Belgian nationality on Tuesday, June 21st. The women were locked up as soon as they reached the land, when the children were taken care of by the Youth Protection Services.
Federal prosecutor Frederic Van Liu described this repatriation as ‘political decision (…) On the basis of the best interests of the child. As early as March 2021, Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo promised to “do everything” For the infiltration of children under 12 years of age, provided that proof of Belgian ancestry. And the imposition of an additional condition on the women who would be received on Belgian soil: to express remorse and to abandon jihadist ideology.
Inhuman and degrading treatment in Syria
All countries are far from adopting the same policy with regard to repatriating the children of jihadists. In all, their number was about 40,000 children and 20,000 women who were arrested and distributed in these camps in March 2019, after the defeat of ISIS. Among them, nearly 1,000 European citizens, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Immediately, children suffer from a lack of access to education and live in unsanitary conditions and food insecurity. In a statement dated April 29 to the attention of the President, rights advocate Claire Headon shared her concern: ” Every day spent in these camps puts Endangering the lives of children exposed to inhuman and degrading treatment. »
France is the EU country with the largest number of citizens in these camps: about 80 women and 200 children. This does not prevent Paris from having one of the strictest return policies. According to the “case by case” principle, only 35 children were returned within three years. Half of them were orphans, as for the others, the mothers were ordered to sign a resignation from their parental rights. Since January 2021, France has not carried out any repatriation, unlike many of its neighbours.
The northern countries are the ones that have returned the most
If the first European countries mainly Heat Resistant MaterialPatrick Baudouin, attorney and president of the Human Rights League, states that divergent developments have been observed. in between “more virtuous”In his words, the Nordic countries include: Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden. A certain number of them have adopted a policy similar to that applied in Belgium: to return children, as well as their mothers, to be judged in their own country.
Finland was one of the first European countries to organize such smuggling. In 2021, Finnish diplomat Josi Tanner estimated that “Because children’s rights prevail, mothers can pursue them”. Germany has also organized several repatriations since the end of 2019. A situation linked to a court decision ordering the government to repatriate a woman and her three children. Even the Netherlands, notorious for its intransigence, took back five women and their eleven children in February 2022, with the aim of bringing these mothers to justice.
On the French side, several groups and NGOs have urged Emmanuel Macron to respect France’s obligations at the international level, in particular the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. On February 24, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned France for violating it “The best interests of the child”, The “Right to life” Children’s right to protection Against inhuman and degrading treatment.
Arguments are not valid for assemblies
The arguments presented by the authorities are inadmissible, the President of the Human Rights League judges. “France says that these women should be tried there, but this is within its jurisdiction, especially since this region does not constitute a state,” Patrick Baudouin thought. In fact, France has issued several international arrest warrants against these women, specifically with the aim of prosecuting them.
In the Syrian camps, different features of the French “ISIS wives”
The lawyer also denounced the often put forward security argument. These people would be even more dangerous if left there, as they could fall back into the hands of the jihadists. » The real obstacle lies, according to him, in the will of the head of state to please public opinion.
The families of the children held in the camps have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, after several failures in the French courts. She must make her decision in the coming months.