British child repatriated from North East Syria camp – Reprieve comment

September 16, 2020

Graphic saying

An unaccompanied British child has been repatriated from a detention camp in North East Syria, it has been reported. Reprieve estimates that there are ​a total of 14 British adult women detained in the camps ​along with their children. There are an estimated 8 British men also held in prisons in the region.

The UK government is currently refusing to repatriate ​the small number of British women who are held with their children in the camps in North East Syria. This refusal stands in stark contrast to the actions of other governments – including the US government – who have repatriated their nationals from North East Syria.

Legal action charity Reprieve, along with NGOs such as Save the Children, are campaigning for ​British families to be brought back to the UK. ​British adults who have committed crimes should be prosecuted through the British courts​, and children should be provided with the support they need to reintegrate into society. Former MI6 Counterterrorism Director Richard Barrett has argued that it is more dangerous to leave adult Britons in North East Syria than to bring them back for prosecution, and that it would be  “wrong to separate children from their mothers”, urging the Government to solve this serious security problem and repatriate the small number of British families in the camp.

A group of Senior Conservative MPs recently wrote to the UK Attorney General asking that British women and children currently detained in the camps be repatriated, pointing out that many of the women were trafficked into going to Syria.

Maya Foa, Reprieve’s Interim Executive Director, said: “The British Government has shown that it is capable of repatriating Brits from the camps in North East Syria. Now it needs to do the sensible thing and repatriate the remaining British families – including women who may be victims of trafficking and innocent of any crime. Our justice and security systems are well-equipped to handle the small handful of British adults held in North East Syria, and we have an obligation to bring the British children home and help them rebuild their lives.”