Families of Daesh fighters to sue Australia over repatriation

Some of the Daesh wives were dragged into the ME by their husbands. Above, SDF fighters interrogate men suspected of belonging to Daesh. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 July 2019

Families of Daesh fighters to sue Australia over repatriation

  • Australia passed “temporary exclusion orders” legislation to prevent ex-Daesh fighters from returning for up to 2 years
  • Lawyers said Australia has a legal obligation to protect its citizens abroad

SYDNEY: Australia faces a lawsuit aimed at forcing the government to repatriate Daesh fighters’ wives and children from a Syrian refugee camp, lawyers for their families told AFP Thursday.
The threat of a lawsuit comes the same day as parliament passed legislation to prevent Australian citizens who have fought for the Daesh from returning home for up to two years under so-called “temporary exclusion orders.”
Lawyers for the Australia-based families of nearly 30 women and children currently held in Syria’s Al-Hawl camp said the firm was preparing to refer their case to the Federal Court in coming days.
Sarah Condon, of the Melbourne law firm Stary Norton Halphen, said the government had a legal obligation to protect Australian civilians abroad and called for a timeframe for the extraction of the families living in conditions she described as “increasingly volatile and dangerous.”
“The urgency therefore arises from the hellish conditions of the camp, and the psychological damage that is caused to children when they are being indefinitely detained,” Condon told AFP.
Eight orphans of two Australian Daesh fighters were removed from the camp in June into the care of Australian officials.
“We understand that it is not an easy logistical task, and that it may take time,” Condon said of repatriating the remaining families.
“We know that it is a possible task however, as they have already successfully returned two families to Australia — we commend those efforts, and urge the efforts to be extended to all women and children.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he had “a lot of sympathy” for children born to foreign fighters abroad, but the government had to be “cognizant of the threat” that some of the women and older children could pose if they were to return.
“Some women have been dragged by their husbands into the Middle East in horrific circumstances and there are others who are willing participants and are an equal threat to Australians,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
The fate of foreign fighters and their families has become a significant problem for governments as the conflict against Daesh draws to a close.
Similar legal action has been launched against the French and German governments, and several European countries have repatriated children from Syria in recent months.
Dutton has said the government was aware of 80 Australians who remained in active conflict zones after traveling to Iraq and Syria.
Condon’s firm said it has identified at least 40 Australian children in Al-Hawl camp alone, an unknown number of whom were born abroad.


US consular staff in Turkey quizzed over video that ‘mocked Islam’

Updated 39 min 45 sec ago

US consular staff in Turkey quizzed over video that ‘mocked Islam’

  • The video, which spread online, showed a women mocking “Zamzam” water
  • The prosecutor said those detained were two employees from the consulate aged 30 and 38

ISTANBUL: Turkish police questioned two local staffers from a US consulate in Turkey Wednesday over a Halloween party video accused of “denigrating religious values,” news agency DHA reported.
The pair, who work at the consulate in the southern city of Adana, were taken in for questioning and later released, the local prosecutor told DHA.
It followed a video, which spread online, showing a women mocking “Zamzam” water, which is considered holy because it is drawn from a well in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
A man, dressed as a pious Muslim, advises her to drink a cocktail.
The prosecutor said those detained were two employees from the consulate aged 30 and 38.
A number of issues have strained relations between Ankara and Washington, including Turkey’s offensive last month against Kurdish militants in Syria, who were a close ally of the US against the Daesh group.
There was also a row over the arrest of several Turks working for US diplomatic outposts following the attempted coup of 2016.
One employee, Metin Topuz from the Istanbul consulate, is still in jail pending his trial on espionage charges.
In January, a staffer at the Adana consulate, Hamza Ulucay, was freed after nearly two years in pre-trial detention over alleged links to the Gulenist movement that Turkey blames for the attempted coup.