End Unlawful Detention Press release

New reports reveal dire situation in “Europe’s Guantánamo”

New reporting from camps in North East Syria – dubbed “Europe’s Guantánamo” – reveal the dire and worsening situation. There are currently a handful of British family units in the camps.

An extensive new report by the NGO Rights and Security International details the “fundamentally unsafe environments in which physical violence is common, the conditions are barbaric, and psychological trauma is rife”.

Meanwhile, a report in The Times reveals the security risk posed by British and Western government failure to close the camps and repatriate their nationals.

Only a handful of British families are now detained in North East Syria, undermining the UK Government’s position that these families cannot be brought back to the UK. Government sources implied last year that over 300 British nationals might still be imprisoned in North East Syria: the Foreign Office had suggested the UK will struggle to monitor and prosecute this group.

But research published by the Egmont Institute, drawing on data from Reprieve, shows that there are just 24 British adults and 35 British children still detained in the region. The comparatively tiny number of British families detained in North East Syria casts further doubt on the Government’s argument that repatriations are not possible, especially as the Government has already flown a number of British children home from Syria to the UK.

These new revelations follow calls by senior MPs for the Government to change its position on repatriating UK nationals – many of whom are highly vulnerable British women who were trafficked to Syria.

Commenting, Reprieve’s Director, Maya Foa, said: “These extremely damning revelations show – once again – just how disastrous Britain’s policy of inaction is. Leaving the tiny number of British nationals in these hellish camps serves neither our humanitarian principles nor our security interests.

“The British Government is more than capable of repatriating these people to the UK, and the British justice system is perfectly well placed to prosecute the adult family members wherever there are charges to answer.”