The Supreme Court in the Netherlands ruled that the state is not legally obliged to repatriate Dutch women and children of ISIS fighters held in Syria.
The legal team representing the 23 women who left their home country to join the terrorist group had asked the court to require the state repatriate the women and their 56 children.
In November 2019, an appeals court judge in The Hague overturned a previous ruling that said the Netherlands must make “all possible efforts” to repatriate the children, most of whom are under 6 years old.
In its ruling Friday, the country’s Supreme Court maintained that because the women and children are outside Dutch territory, they can’t invoke human rights treaties of which the Netherlands is a signatory.
The court also noted that the women and their recruited men traveled voluntarily to the conflict zone and that they could present a national security risk should they return.
When ISIS lost its last shred of territory in the Syrian town of Baghouz in March 2019, thousands of ISIS fighters and their families were transferred to Kurdish-run detention centers and camps.
Today, an estimated 68,000 suspected ISIS fighters and their relatives remain in the custody and under the protection of the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces.
Save the Children estimates that more than 7,000 children of foreign Western and Arab nationalities live in the severely crowded al-Hol camp in the northeastern province of Hasakah.
Miserable and sometimes deadly conditions have led to fears the camps could serve as a breeding ground for the next iteration of ISIS.
Hundreds of children are thought to have died from malnutrition, diarrhea and pneumonia in al-Hol camp. The camp population would be unable to cope should it get hit with a Corona-virus outbreak, rights groups have warned.
The Dutch government maintains it’s too dangerous to retrieve the women and children from the camps in northern Syria.
But at least 20 countries have managed to travel into the Kurdish-held territory to collect their citizens, including Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, the UK and USA.
AL Monitor / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2020.