A government lawyer is telling a Federal Court hearing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not obligate Ottawa to repatriate Canadians held in Syrian camps.
Family members of 23 detained Canadians are asking the court to order the government to arrange for their return, saying that refusing to do so violates the Charter.
Federal lawyer Anne Turley told the court today there is no legal obligation to facilitate repatriation of these Canadians in the Charter, statute or international law.
A handful of women and children have returned from the region in recent years, but Canada has, for the most part, not followed the path of other countries that have successfully repatriated citizens.
Even so, Global Affairs Canada recently determined that six women and 13 children included in the court case have met a threshold under its policy framework for providing extraordinary assistance — meaning Canada might step in.
The Canadian citizens are among the many foreign nationals in Syrian camps run by Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.