On January 19, Ottawa begrudgingly agreed to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 children held in Syrian prison camps for suspected association with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
Two of those women will appear before a Brampton court Tuesday after law enforcement arrested them upon returning to Canada last week. The RCMP said the women would appear for a bail hearing while the Mounties seek a terrorism peace bond against them under the Criminal Code.
A terrorism peace bond permits a judge to order the defendants to enter into an arrangement of good behaviour, likely with conditions such as a curfew with the possibility of a prison sentence if the conditions are not followed.
The women's relatives demanded a declaration from Ottawa stipulating their lack of action was unreasonable, including a formal request for repatriation of the detainees, emergency travel documents issued, and authorization of a Canadian representative to bring about their return.
Family members pleaded for years with the federal government to arrange their return. They claimed that refusing to repatriate Canadian citizens violates their Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The two women returned to Canada as part of a group of four Canadian women and ten children who landed in Montreal last week after being held for years at the al-Roj prison camp in northeastern Syria — a camp of women captured following the fall of ISIL in 2019.
Another woman among the repatriated group was released on bail Friday in Edmonton, pending a terrorism peace bond application. Some returnees are relatives of suspected ISIL fighters but have never faced charges officially before a court.
The al-Roj prison camp is one of two displaced persons camps in the region now controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. They have asked more than 60 countries to repatriate about 10,000 foreign nationals imprisoned in Syria and Iraq for suspected ties to ISIL.
At least seven countries have repatriated people, including 659 from Iraq and 58 from France. Seventeen Australian nationals, 12 Germans, 40 Dutch, 38 Russians and two British citizens have also returned home.
Ottawa has since appealed a Federal Court ruling that ordered the government to repatriate four Canadian men detained in northeastern Syrian prisons for being presumed ISIS members.
The Canadian men — who have yet to face charges — remain imprisoned by Kurdish forces over alleged ties to ISIS — a recognized Islamic extremist group.
In his January ruling, Federal Court Justice Henry Brown said that the four men had a right to return to Canada under S. 6(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The section states that "every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada."
However, the feds argue that Brown erred in his decision, stating, "The court has effectively created a right to be returned."
The Justice also cited poor prison conditions and the absence of a trial and charges for permitting their repatriation.
"The conditions of the...men are even direr than those of the women and children Canada has just agreed to repatriate," reads the ruling. "These individuals live in crowded and unsanitary conditions. They are held without charge or trial and lack adequate food and medical attention."