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Ottawa Won’t Repatriate Canadian Mother of 6 From Syria After Risk Assessment

The federal government will not repatriate a Quebec mother of six from Syria following a security assessment, the woman’s lawyer says.

The woman and her children are among many foreign nationals in Syrian camps run by Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The government gave the woman the option of letting her children join other Canadians on the repatriation flight in April, but would not let her depart pending a security assessment.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has now completed that assessment and will not be repatriating the woman.

“She was in complete shock,” Greenspon told CBC. He said the woman must now choose between allowing her children to return to Canada without her or keeping them with her in Syria. Greenspon has previously requested that the woman not be named due to the sensitivity of the case and related privacy concerns.

“It’s not a choice that any mother anywhere in the world should have to make,” he said.

Separating a mother from her children violates Canada’s international commitments as well as the government’s policy for assessing possible repatriation cases, Greenspon said.

“It violates the very policy that Global Affairs Canada adopted,” he said.

Greenspon said the government told him it decided not to repatriate the woman because she “adheres to extreme ideological beliefs” and could pose a risk to the public. He said the government provided no details on how they arrived to that decision.

“They don’t indicate the depth of their assessment or what they took into account or how they came to this conclusion,” he said.

When reached for comment, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly’s office directed CBC News to Global Affairs Canada. The department said it doesn’t comment on specific repatriation cases due to privacy concerns.

Greenspon argued that if the woman does pose a risk, the government should repatriate her and either charge her with a crime or place her under a peace bond. Such a peace bond would allow a judge to order a defendant to maintain good behaviour or face a prison sentence.

Two women were repatriated from Syria last October and one was charged with terrorism-related offences.

Greenspon also has argued in Federal Court on behalf of several men, women and children detained in Syria that Global Affairs Canada must arrange for their return — and that refusing to do so would violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Ottawa-based lawyer reached an agreement with the federal government in January to bring home six Canadian women and 13 children who had been part of the court action. The RCMP arrested three of those women upon their arrival in Canada; they were later released from custody on peace bonds.

“There’s all kinds of means that the Canadian government has already put forward in an effort to ensure that they can control the conduct of women that they think might be a risk,” Greenspon said.

“So to say that they can’t do it … in these circumstances is simply just false.”

Source : CBC