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UN accuses Finland of violating the rights of its children detained in Syrian camps | Finland

A UN watchdog has accused Finland of violating the rights of Finnish children stuck in Syrian prison camps holding suspected jihadists and their families.

Adding to growing criticism directed at Western countries, the UN’s children’s rights committee said Finland had a responsibility to make serious efforts to bring children home.

The country “has the capacity and authority to protect the rights of the children in question by taking steps to repatriate them or providing other consular responses,” the committee said in a report. out on wednesday,

He said the “prolonged detention of child victims” in conditions where they lacked health care, food, water, sanitation and education “constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. “.

The committee, made up of 18 independent experts tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, investigated the case after a petition filed in 2019 by relatives on behalf of six Finnish children detained at the camp from al-Hawl to northeast Syria.

Three of the children have returned to Finland with their mother but three are stuck. “The other three child victims, currently between the ages of five and six, are still being held in closed camps in the war zone,” the committee said.

Another 33 Finnish children are being held at the camp, which is controlled by the Western-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces. Al-Hawl is home to around 56,000 people, of whom around 10,000 are wives and children of Islamic State fighters.

On average, two children die every week in al-Hawl due to the dismal conditions, Save the Children said in a report Last year.

Western countries have largely failed to make efforts to repatriate their nationals.

The European Court of Human Rights condemned France last month for its refusal to repatriate French women who traveled to Syria with their partners to join IS.

More French citizens have joined ISIS in Syria than any other European country, and for years Paris viewed the women who left to do so as fighters.

The UK has faced similar pressure from MPs and human rights groups, but has so far repatriated only a few children and no women, arguing that women constitute a threat to national security. In the case of some, including Shamima Begum, who left London aged 15, the government stripped their British citizenship.

Other European countries such as Belgium and Germany have recovered most of their citizens who left to fight in Syria, and Australia is preparing to launch a mission to rescue dozens of its women and children trapped in camps.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report