Dutch court gives gov't deadline to repatriate from Syria five women with suspected ISIS ties

“Because they waited so long, 15 women have escaped from the camp. The sooner they do it, the better, also for the children.”
Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria (Photo: AFP)
Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria (Photo: AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Dutch court has given the Netherlands government a hard deadline of three months to repatriate five women nationals with alleged ties to ISIS, the public broadcaster Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) reported on Tuesday.

If the women are not repatriated to the Netherlands within three months, a judge has ruled, the government must explain why it was unable to do so. Otherwise, criminal proceedings in the case against the women would risk being closed and they can never be prosecuted in the country for membership in a terrorist organization.

The five women in 2018 requested their cases to be dismissed since they were not able to appear in court in the Netherlands due to Amsterdam's refusal to repatriate them.

Last month, a Dutch national Ilham B. with alleged ties to ISIS, her two underage children, and another orphaned minor were repatriated from Syria to the Netherlands.

Read More: Dutch government confirms return of Dutch woman, children from Syria

The Dutch government repatriated Ilham B. to prevent her from avoiding prosecution on charges related to ISIS. The judge hearing her case warned last year that he would close proceedings if the government would not return her to the Netherlands from Syria.

There are also new requests by eight Dutch women with alleged ties to ISIS to annul their court cases. However, in these cases, the government will be given more time before the next court session will be held.

Lawyer André Seebregts, who represents the female ISIS suspects, told Kurdistan 24 on Wednesday that the Dutch government could have repatriated the women earlier this year. “Because they waited so long, 15 women have escaped from the camp. The sooner they do it, the better, also for the children.”

On Monday, the Dutch government confirmed that fifteen Dutch women with alleged ties to ISIS have escaped from camps in northeast Syria in the last few years.

According to the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (​AIVD), there are 30 Dutch women in camps held by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Roj and al-Hol camps and another 75 children among them with a link to the Netherlands.

On June 28, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Mazloum Abdi reiterated calls on foreign countries to take back their citizens from Syria ahead of a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against ISIS in Rome.

Several European countries have been reluctant to repatriate their citizens due to legal and security risks and domestic opposition to the repatriation of ISIS suspects.

The majority of Syria’s al-Hol camp residents are Iraqis and Syrians, but the camp also includes a large number of foreign families thought to be tied to ISIS. According to the United Nations, there are about 62,000 people still in the camp, including tens of thousands of other women affiliated with ISIS and their children.

“Third, 10,000 ISIS fighters remain in SDF detention in Syria. This situation is simply untenable. It just can’t persist indefinitely,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated during the meeting in Rome on June 28. 

“The United States continues to urge countries of origin, including coalition partners, to repatriate, rehabilitate, and, where applicable, prosecute their citizens.”