July 12, 2020

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Canada failing citizens stuck in Syria: report

Canada failing citizens stuck in Syria: report
Image copyright Reuters A human rights group has criticised Canada for failing to repatriate dozens of citizens with alleged ties to the Islamic State (IS) back from Syria.Human Rights Watch, an international organisation, says 47 Canadians - including 26 children - have been detained for over a year.Included in the list is Jack Letts, an…
Canadian flag Image copyright Reuters

A human rights group has criticised Canada for failing to repatriate dozens of citizens with alleged ties to the Islamic State (IS) back from Syria.

Human Rights Watch, an international organisation, says 47 Canadians – including 26 children – have been detained for over a year.

Included in the list is Jack Letts, an Anglo-Canadian man who lost UK citizenship in 2019.

Nicknamed “Jihadi Jack” by the UK press, he joined IS in 2014, aged 18.

The dual UK-Canadian national was jailed after being captured by Kurdish YPG forces while trying to flee to Turkey in May 2017.

The Canadian government said the UK had “off-loaded” its responsibilities.

The report, published by Human Rights Watch, accused Canada of abandoning its international obligations and failing to provide consular assistance because of the Canadians’ alleged ties to IS.

“If Canada can bring home tens of thousands of citizens from around the world in a matter of weeks, surely it can find a way to repatriate fewer than 50 others trapped in horrific conditions in northeast Syria,” said Letta Tayler, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The lives of Canadians are on the line, and the time to bring them home is now.”

Image caption Jack Letts, dual UK-Canadian national was jailed in 2017

During his daily press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the government, and said it is difficult to offer diplomatic assistance because of safety concerns in the region. Canada does not have a diplomatic presence in Syria.

“We have a responsibility as a government to ensure that Canadian citizens, particularly employees, are not put into danger, are not exposed to grave situations,” Mr Trudeau said.

“Syria is an area w

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