Federal Court rejects legal effort to force reparation of women and children in Syrian detention camps

The Federal Court has upheld an earlier ruling rejecting legal arguments that would have brought home Australian ISIS brides and their children from a refugee camp in Syria.

On Tuesday morning, Judge Christopher Horan announced that the court would dismiss the appeal of the case.

The Court believes that the appeal should be rejected, I will publish our reasons,” he said.

Over two days in early May, a three-judge panel heard an appeal brought by litigation guardian Save the Children Australia on behalf of 31 women and children from Al-Roj camp in north-east Syria.

Last November, Judge Mark Moshinsky rejected an initial application asking the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus, effectively requiring the Australian government to bring the group home.

The women, some of whom were children at the time, traveled to Syria to become brides for Islamic State fighters before the self-styled caliphate collapsed in 2019.

Thirty-four women and children with Australian citizenship, or eligible for citizenship, remain in Al-Roj camp controlled by the Autonomous Administration of Northern and Eastern Syria (AANES).

Save the Children Australia had argued that the government has a “legal and moral obligation” to act, while the Australian government argued that AANES had “complete and unfettered discretion” over detainees and therefore could not be forced to repatriate them.

Last year, Mat Tinkler, chief executive of Save the Children Australia, said families had waited more than four years to be repatriated before turning to the legal system as a last resort.

The appeal ruling by Chief Justice Debra Mortimer, Justice Geoffrey Kennett and Justice Horan will be published online

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