The Dutch state has said it will appeal against a court ruling ordering it to take back dozens of young children of mothers who joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group in Syria.
A court in The Hague on Monday said the government must actively help repatriate 56 children living in poor conditions in camps in northern Syria.
The Dutch foreign and justice ministers both issued statements on Tuesday saying they would seek to overturn the court’s decision, which they said did not take diplomatic considerations into account.
“The ruling raises questions about a number of issues that may not have been sufficiently considered, including international affairs,” Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus and Foreign Minister Stef Blok wrote in a letter to Parliament.
“The cabinet decided to file an appeal to gain certainty as quickly as possible.”
The ruling came after lawyers representing 23 women launched a lawsuit last week demanding the Netherlands return them and their 56 children from detention camps in Syria.
Judge Hans Vetter said that while the women did not need to be repatriated, the state must make “all possible efforts” to return the children, who have Dutch nationality and are under 12 years of age. Most children are younger than six.
“The children cannot be held responsible for the actions of their parents, however serious these may be,” the court said. “The children are victims of the actions of their parents.”
The women, however, “were aware of the crimes being committed by ISIL and must be tried,” it said.
The Dutch government has always insisted it was too dangerous for Dutch officials to go into the camps and find the women and children to return them to the Netherlands.