According to the Court, the rejection of a request for repatriation must be examined by an independent body to verify that the decision “is not based on anything arbitrary”.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has condemned France for not having repatriated “daughters and grandchildren of applicants detained in camps in Syriain a sentence handed down on Wednesday. France would violate Article 3 § 2 of Protocol No. 4 (“ No one can be deprived of the right to enter the territory of the State of which he is a citizen. “) To the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the Court, French citizens and their children do not enjoy a general right to repatriation provided for by the right of entry into the national territory provided for in the aforementioned article. However, “the rejection of a request for re-entry into the national territory, both because the competent authorities have refused to accept it, and because they have tried to follow it up without results, must be capable of being subjected to an appropriate individual examination by an independent body responsible for the control of its legality“. And in this specific case, the Court considers”that the situation of the applicants’ relatives revealed the existence of exceptional circumstances such as to trigger the obligation to surround the decision-making process with adequate safeguards against arbitrariness“.
Apply with “been deprived of any possibility to effectively challenge the reasons given by these authorities and to verify that such refusals were not based on any arbitrariness“, the courtyard “states that it is up to the French government to resume examination of the applicants’ claims as soon as possible, surrounding it with adequate safeguards against arbitrariness“, Concludes the sentence.
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A long-term business
The court had been kidnapped by two French couples who had unsuccessfully asked the French authorities to repatriate their daughters, two young women companions of jihadists, and their three children. The four applicants argue that this refusal violates several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, a text that the ECHR is required to enforce, in particular by exposing daughters and grandchildren to “Inhuman and degrading treatment”.
The two women left France in 2014 and 2015 to reach Syria where they gave birth to two children for one, one for the other. Now aged 31 and 33, they have been held with them since early 2019 in Al-Hol and Roj camps in northeastern Syria. Questioned by the AFP, the father of one of them said that he wishes to remain anonymous “Reasonably optimistic” as to the condemnation of France. “We are waiting for the recognition of the law. Let them be repatriated and tried (in France) for what they did “. If the ECHR does not condemn France, “That would mean (which Paris) has the right to keep children in war zones (…) because their parents made the wrong choices “, estimated Me Marie Dosé, one of the families’ lawyers. She calls not to do “jump the last bastion which is the child and the innocence of the child”.
The decision of the judicial arm of the Council of Europe will be examined far beyond France as it also affects the hundreds of European citizens currently detained in Syria. Seven Council Member States (Norway, Denmark, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Sweden) thus intervened in the proceedings. This stop “goes beyond the Franco-French framework” and “will mark the Court’s jurisprudence”, was esteemed with the Defender of Rights, the French ombudsman in charge of defending the rights, especially those of children. An independent administrative authority, the Defender intervened in the proceedings before the ECHR and had already questioned the French government on the matter several times since 2019, already believing that he does not take into account the best interests of the child. In February, Paris was even spotted by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which believed France did. “Violated the rights of French children detained in Syria by not having repatriated them”.
The case-by-case doctrine
“The central question” of this file, is that of the “Jurisdiction”, explains the institute: does France exercise extra-territorial jurisdiction over these mothers and their children in Syria? However, it is the first time that the ECHR has considered this question. Indeed, it is from this recognition of jurisdiction that the State’s obligation to repatriate these children and their mothers arises, the Defender emphasizes. Elsewhere in Europe, countries like Germany or Belgium have already recovered most of their jihadists. For its part, to the chagrin of families and NGOs, Paris has long favored the “case by case”doctrine defended before the ECHR by its representative.
But in early July, France reported 35 minors and 16 mothers, the first massive repatriation since the fall of 2019 by the Islamic State (IS) “caliphate” group. Until then, only a few children had been reported. Mothers indicted and imprisoned, all targeted by a French search warrant or arrest, minors entrusted to the Social Aid for Children. According to the coordinator of French intelligence and the fight against terrorism, Laurent Nunez, about a hundred French women and nearly 250 children remained in camps in Syria after this operation. “When we can, we will carry out repatriation operations”he told AFP in mid-July.
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