Opposition urges Ottawa to repatriate Canadians held captive in Syria

Opposition urges Ottawa to repatriate Canadians held captive in Syria

Jack Letts, a Canadian of British origin being held in a Kurdish prison in Syria.

New Democrat Foreign Affairs Critic acknowledges repatriation is not straightforward Canadians taken prisoner in northern Syria, but she maintains that the federal government must do more to bring its citizens home.

NDP MP Heather McPherson pointed out that arbitrarily detained Canadians, including many young children, are struggling to survive in harsh conditions. There is no sign that their situation will improve, she said.

Ms. McPherson held a press conference with several human rights defenders on Thursday to calling on Ottawa to take responsibility for its citizens languishing in squalid camps.

Nearly 40 Canadians are among thousands of foreign nationals held in Syrian camps manned by Kurdish forces, who have taken over the conflict-torn region.

The federal government explained that Canada's ability to provide consular assistance in Syria is extremely limited due to the dangerous situation on the ground.

Several families have therefore turned to the Federal Court, alleging that the government's refusal to intervene violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Citizenship Act and the Immigration and Protection of Refugees Act. refugees.

Ms. McPherson said Canadians should not have to go to court to obtain the consular services to which they are entitled.

Yes, it's a big challenge, but that's no reason for the government to do nothing, argued the MP. A government has no right to let its citizens down and it cannot make decisions based on fear.

All Canadians prisoners in northeast Syria must be repatriated. And those who commit crimes should be prosecuted here under our justice system. Other countries have done it, but Canada has yet to demonstrate its political will.

Green Party MP Elizabeth May also mentioned that she does not understand why Canada is not urgently repatriating all of its citizens.

How can we turn our backs to these Canadians?, she lamented.

Some 12,000 jihadists of more than 50 nationalities are being held in prisons in northern Syria, according to the Kurdish authorities (archives).

The current situation has allowed Monia Mazigh to draw a parallel between the plight of detainees and what her husband, Maher Arar, taken prisoner in Syria two decades ago, has experienced.

They are not charged with any crime, their families want them to return home, but the Canadian government is stopping them, she dropped , Thursday.

Mr. Arar, a Canadian of Syrian descent, was detained in New York in September 2002. Shortly after, he was deported by US authorities and ended up in a cell – which looked more like a tomb – in Damascus.

To escape torture, Ottawa telecommunications engineer made false confessions to military intelligence officers Syrian over alleged collaboration with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

A federal investigation has concluded that misinformation passed by the RCMP to the United States likely led to Arar's arrest.

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