European Court of Human Rights Orders France to Reconsider Repatriation Requests Of Its Citizens


Author:Felicia Insinger

Department:Europe Team


On 14 September 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) condemned the French government in the case of H.F. and Others v. France over its refusal to repatriate two French women who travelled to Syria with their partners to join the Islamic State (IS). The women are currently with their children in Kurdish-run detention camps in north-eastern Syria under poor conditions. (Chrisafis, 2022). The Submissions Of the Parties The cases were brought before the ECtHR more than two years ago by the parents of the women. They argued that their daughters prolonged detention exposed them and their children to inhumane and degrading treatment, pointing out the widespread problems in the camps, such as malnutrition and disease. The parents, therefore, wanted their daughters to be returned to France. The applicants relied, amongst others, on Article 3 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which reads that no one shall be deprived of the right to enter the territory of the State of which he is a national. Inversely, France argued that it should not be obliged to repatriate, as it did not exercise its jurisdiction over its citizens in north-eastern Syria, which was supported by seven other European countries. (Mheut, 2022). The Courts Ruling The Court sided with the applicants, holding that there were special features which enabled Frances jurisdiction over the family members, including that their lives were at risk, several requests for repatriation had been sent to the French authorities, and that the Kurdish authorities had indicated their willingness to hand over the women and their children to the French authorities. Having established Frances jurisdiction, the Court proceeded to say that the country had failed to examine the families requests for repatriation properly. The Court noted that despite the lack of general right to repatriation, States are still obliged to provide appropriate safeguards against arbitrary decision-making. In the present case, it found that France had not provided those safeguards, as it had not issued a formal decision concerning the requests for repatriation and had not provided a judicial review of those tacit refusals either. Therefore, the Court decided that France has to promptly re-examine the requests for repatriation and afford safeguards against arbitrariness in the decision-making process, i.e., an independent body (separate from the States executive authorities) must be able to review a possible rejection of the requests (Mheut, 2022). Importance Of the Decision The ECtHRs decision constitutes the first time that the Court has ruled on the repatriation of European families who joined IS and have been held in Kurdish-run Syrian camps. Hundreds of persons remain in the camps, which presents a dilemma for European countries, having to decide between bringing back individuals associated with terrorism and their commitments to human rights. France, which has the most citizens that have joined IS in Syria among other European countries and has suffered numerous deadly terrorist attacks since 2015, had for years resisted calls by human rights groups to repatriate women who left the country to join IS. It had argued that citizens who joined jihadist networks would pose security risks if returned home and that those persons are fighters who should be tried where they are accused of committing crimes (while, in reality, this is not a feasible legal solution). Decisions about the return to France of children were made on a case-by-case basis(Koller, 2022). Currently, about 65 French women and 165 French children remain in the detention camps (Mheut, 2022).
















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David Marks 3 hours ago

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Christine Eve 3 hours ago

Sending love. My nephews Nick and Anthony Salaber are your teammates, so I know the caliber person you are. Our whole family is sending our best to you and your family.

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