The European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday ruled that France had failed to properly examine the repatriation requests of two families of jihadists in Syria – and must do so as soon as possible.
The case concerns two French women who traveled to Syria with their partners to join the Islamic State armed group, along with the three children who were born there.
It had been brought by the women’s parents in France, who argued their prolonged detention at Kurdish-run camps in north-east Syria exposed them to inhumane and degrading treatment.
'Violation of rights'
The court found that France's refusal to repatriate the women and children violated the rights of a person to "enter the territory of the state of which (they are) a national".
“It is incumbent on the French government to resume the examination of the applications as soon as possible," the Grand Chamber of the ECHR, its highest court, said.
"The absence of any formal decision … to refuse to grant the applicants' requests … deprived them of any possibility of effectively challenging the reasons given by those authorities.”
In addition to being ordered to re-examining the repatriation requests, Paris must pay costs of 18,000 euros and 13,200 euros to the two families.
The decision was watched with interest by countries whose nationals are still being held in Syria, with representatives from Denmark, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain and others present in the Strasbourg court room.
France carried out a mass repatriation of French nationals from Syria in July, bringing home 16 women and 35 children.