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Dutch don't have to bring back IS children from Syrian camps: appeal court

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A gavel in a courtroom.

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The cabinet has won its appeal against a court ruling ordering the Netherlands to do all it can to bring back IS children from Syrian prison camps.

Appeal court judges said in an emergency ruling on Friday afternoon that the state does not have to make maximum effort to repatriate 56 children because it is a political issue.

The government will not actively try to bring Dutch nationals back because, ministers say, it is too dangerous for civil servants to make the trip.

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Prime minister Mark Rutte said at his weekly cabinet meeting he was pleased with the ruling, but declined to go into details.


Judges in The Hague said earlier this month the Netherlands must ‘make all possible efforts’ to repatriate some 56 Dutch children in refugee camps in Northern Syria, but is not required to bring back their mothers unless that is unavoidable.

The children ‘did not opt ​​for the caliphate, but now they have to deal with torture, abuse and lack of facilities’ the court said in its ruling, giving the Netherlands two weeks to make progress on the issue.

The US ambassador to the Netherlands, Pete Hoekstra, has said several times the US is willing to help bring the children, and their mothers, back to the Netherlands.

The issue has divided the cabinet and both minister’s parties – the VVD and CDA – are opposed to bringing the children, most of whom are under the age of 6, back.

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