Canada received assurances from Kurdish authorities it can repatriate 5 Canadians from Syria: lawyer

A lawyer representing five Canadians held in a detention camp in northeastern Syria says he's been given assurances the federal government will repatriate them, but doesn't know when it will happen.

2 Canadian women and 3 children were detained and mistreated, say their lawyers

Canada's plan to get families out of Syria led to ‘mistreatment’

16 days ago

Duration 2:11

Two women and three teenage girls who were supposed to be repatriated by Canada have made contact after disappearing. They say they were detained and mistreated by Kurdish guards after following the government’s plan to get them to Canada.

A lawyer representing five Canadians held in a detention camp in northeastern Syria says he's been given assurances the federal government will repatriate them, but doesn't know when that will happen.

The two Canadian women and three teenage girls were supposed to board a repatriation flight last month with 14 other Canadians. But they never made it.

The five Canadians went missing for more than 10 days, and later reported being detained and mistreated by their Kurdish guards rather than being transported to the pick-up point at al-Roj camp, according to their lawyers.

Ottawa lawyer Lawrence Greenspon says Global Affairs Canada has now informed him it "obtained assurances that Kurdish authorities will facilitate" efforts to hand over the five people to be brought to Canada. But the government didn't say when that could happen.

"Although no time frame has been specified, it gives the families hope for the return of their loved ones," Greenspon told CBC News in an email.

The two Canadian women and three girls were part of a federal court case. Greenspon had argued that by allowing them to languish in camps that human rights groups have described as having inhumane conditions, Canada had violated their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The camps in northeastern Syria hold ISIS suspects and their family members, according to Human Rights Watch.

The last-minute agreement between Greenspon and the government in January was made a day before a Federal Court judge released his decision on whether the government must repatriate all detained Canadians in northeastern Syria, including men in prisons there.The deal removed the women and children from the Federal Court ruling, leaving only men as part of the case.

Greenspon said that this latest update from the government shows its "continuing efforts pursuant to the agreement" to repatriate the women and children who were part of the deal with the government.

Global Affairs Canada said it has taken "extraordinary steps" to repatriate those involved in the litigation. The department said it "received credible information" indicating the women have been located at al-Roj camp.

"As long as conditions allow, we will continue this work," said Global Affairs spokesperson Grantly Franklin in a media statement. "Due to privacy and operational security considerations, we cannot comment further."

These five Canadians have not been charged in northeastern Syria with any crimes.

The RCMP arrested three Canadian women in Montreal after the government repatriated them in early April. The RCMP is seeking terrorism peace bonds against the women.

A Federal Court judge ruled in January that four men detained in Kurdish prisons were entitled to have the federal government make a formal request for their release "as soon as reasonably possible."

The federal government appealed that decision and is awaiting a ruling.

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