THE HAGUE (CN) — A Dutch judge ruled Monday that the Dutch government must make all possible efforts to repatriate Dutch children from detention camps holding relatives of Islamic State fighters in Syria, but it does not have the same obligation to their mothers.
“The children did not opt for the caliphate, but now they have to deal with torture, abuse and lack of facilities,” Judge Hans Vetter said, reading the verdict aloud to the packed courtroom.
Five attorneys representing the women filed the case before the Netherlands national court to force the government to bring the group home from two refugee camps in North Syria. All of the women in the case are citizens of the Netherlands who traveled to Iraq and Syria to support the Islamic State. The youngest child is 2 weeks old and the oldest is 12 years old.
The Netherlands estimates there are 15 men, 35 women, and 90 children with Dutch nationality in refugee camps in Syria and Iraq.
Many family members of the 34 women and 56 children represented in this case turned up for the result.
The women are not entitled to be repatriated because they traveled to the region of their own violation, Vetter ruled. He added that the government cannot be forced to collect the children, because of security risks. The Dutch government argued that it was too dangerous to travel to the area.
But Vetter said the government must “do everything necessary” to repatriate the children.
The decision may be irrelevant. Turkey announced last week that it will start to deport foreign ISIS fighters from refugee camps there.
“Turkey is not a hotel for foreign terrorists,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said.
Turkey said deported one U.S. citizen on Tuesday and seven Germans will be deported on Thursday.
Though the two camps where the Dutch women are being held are in Syria, they are close to the border with Turkey and the Turkish military has made incursions into the area, after the pullout of American troops.
“If the Netherlands does nothing, Syrian President Al-Assad will soon have the children in their hands,” attorney Tom de Boer said on behalf of the women.