ECtHR slams France’s lax to reconsider repatriation requests from NE Syria

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) –  On Monday, European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) passed a decision, calling out France for its failure in reviewing requests of repatriation for nationals of the Islamic State Organization (ISIS) stranded in northeast Syria.

Though France abides by obligations under the right to enter one’s own country, it was called out for “failing to set up a formal mechanism to review individual requests of repatriation that would incorporate sufficient guarantees against arbitrariness,” the ECtHR said.

On September 14, the ECtHR in Strasbourg ordered France to reconsider requests of repatriation of two French women held in camps in northeastern Syria.

The two French women travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State Organization (ISIS), and there they gave birth to three children.

Parents of the women resorted to the court after France refused to allow their daughters and grandsons back in France, claiming that they are exposed to inhumane and degrading treatment there.

The ECtHR stressed that the decision will not urge countries to repatriate all nationals from northeast Syria, but “might result in some additional repatriations in the near future.”

It added that France failed “to have an established and nonarbitrary process for reviewing repatriation requests.”

“France should change its practice in similar cases and reexamine the applicants’ repatriation requests,” the Grand Chamber ruled on Sept. 14.

The decision read, “Policies advertised as countering terrorism have been involved in entrenching exceptional legal regimes and exceptions in domestic legal systems, posing a potential existential threat to the rule of law.”

ISIS lost its final stronghold in Syria in March 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) along with the US-led Global Coalition announced, after fierce battles in the town of Baghouz in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, bringing an end to the so-called caliphate declared by the terrorist group in 2014.

After Baghouz, thousands of ISIS fighters were transferred to prisons, while their families were transferred to Hawl and Roj camps in the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) areas.

The issue of ISIS families, hail from more than 60 nationalities, constitutes an ongoing and challenging issue on the non-internationally recognized AANES, which repeatedly demands the concerned countries to repatriate their national.

The AANES also calls on the international powers to provide support for establishing rehabilitation centers and help in tackling the security situation in the facilities were foreign nationals stay.

Despite these repeated calls the majority of countries, including those participating in the Global Coalition, refuse to repatriate their nationals.

Reporting by Saya Muhammad