Derek Achong

Relatives of two women with eight children and two orphans of a former Islamic State (IS) Trinidadian fighter have sued the Ministry of National Security over its failure to answer their requests to have their relatives repatriated from the Al-Hol refugee camp in north Syria.

Attorneys Criston J Williams and Shanice Edwards, who are representing the group, filed the lawsuit after the ministry failed to meet the deadline for responding to their latest legal correspondence on Wednesday.

The judicial review lawsuit is scheduled to come up for a preliminary virtual hearing before High Court Judge Joan Charles, tomorrow.

In the latest letter sent on Tuesday, Edwards noted that she did not receive a meaningful response from ministry after writing three times in late July.

Stating that her clients have T&T citizenship or T&T lineage in the case of the orphans and some of the women’s children who were born in Syria, she said that they are entitled to return home under local immigration laws and international refugee policies.

“In international human rights law, the basic principle underlying voluntary repatriation is the right to return to one’s own country. As a collar of that right, states are duty-bound to admit their nationals and cannot compel another state to keep them,” she said.

Through the lawsuit, the relatives are seeking to compel the ministry, through National Security Minister Stuart Young, to make a decision on whether they would be allowed or denied admission into T&T at a later date.

The group comprises of a 33-year-old woman her children ages six and 11; a 35-year-old woman and her children ages three, five, 10, 12, and 14 (youngest two born in Syria) and two orphans ages three and four.

The camp, controlled by Kurdish forces, housed over 14,000 refugees from over 60 countries, who came to the region to join the IS and have been displaced since its collapse.

Most residents have been experiencing the same difficulties in returning home as their countries also mull over their proposed repatriations.