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STATEMENT: European court case shows Australian children must urgently be repatriated from Syria

The decision by European Court of Human Rights to call on France to 're-examine' its refusal to repatriate women from Syria, highlights the need for Australia to do the same and repatriate children living in desperately dangerous limbo caused by political inaction, said Save the Children Australia today.
15 September 2022

The judges condemned France’s refusal to repatriate their women and children, ruling that there had been a violation of their right to return home, that the French government should re-examine repatriation requests promptly, and appropriate safeguards should be provided against arbitrariness.
 
Importantly for the wellbeing of children, the court found that there may be positive obligations on states to repatriate their nationals, in situations where extraterritorial factors directly threaten the life and physical wellbeing of a child in a situation of extreme vulnerability.

The European Court of Human Rights decision adds to longstanding calls from United Nations human rights bodies, the Autonomous Administration of North East Syria (AANES) and the United States government, to repatriate the more than 40 Australian children and their mothers who are currently being held in camps in North-East Syria.

The children who are currently in these camps face threats to their life and physical wellbeing on a day-to-day basis, they are vulnerable and want to return home.

The government must act with the utmost urgency to repatriate them back to Australia where they belong.
 
Save the Children Australia CEO, Mat Tinkler said:

“What this case highlights, is the need for the Australian government to urgently act on the consistent requests for repatriation of children, who have so far been kept waiting for more than three years for a political decision to be made for their repatriation.
 
“We know that Australian children are suffering in these camps and each day they spend there the more harm is being done.
 
“The case demonstrates the need for appropriate safeguards to be put in place to avoid arbitrary treatment of Australian children, such as the cessation of citizenship of the parents of children in detention, which can effectively render children stateless.
 
“It should not require legal cases such as this or the recent High Court decision in Alexander v Minister for Home Affairs to push the Australian Government to act.
 
“We acknowledge the complexities around the issue but urge the Australian Government to commit to bringing home Australian children and their mothers.
 
“They do not deserve to be condemned to a life of suffering, or worse, death.”

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au.

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