Canadian Kimberly Polman arrested after being repatriated from Syrian detention camp for families of ISIS fighters

Canadian Kimberly Polman was arrested after arriving in Canada following her repatriation from a detention camp in Syria, according to her lawyer.

Polman has been detained for three years in Syria’s al-Roj detention camp for the families of ISIS fighters. She traveled to Syria in 2015 after marrying an online Islamic State fighter and said she was in a « terrible place » at the time.

Her lawyer Lawrence Greenspon confirmed to CBC News that Polman arrived in Montreal on Wednesday morning and is on her way to Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Polman was arrested under Section 810 of the Criminal Code and authorities are seeking a peace bond, Greenspon said — a court order used to restrain people from committing or repeating crimes, which forces them to accept specific conditions to keep the peace.

A total of two women and two children have been repatriated in this latest operation from a detention camp in northeast Syria that holds women with suspected links to ISIS and their children, Global Affairs has confirmed. Canada Wednesday morning.

“Canada thanks the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria for its cooperation and acknowledges its efforts to provide care to those detained in an extremely difficult security situation and adverse circumstances,” wrote Global Affairs Canada. in a statement to CBC News.

Global Affairs said the United States helped with the operation. It remains unclear exactly what role Canada played in the repatriation of the four Canadians.

LOOK | At least 2 Canadian women and their children have left the IS detention camp:

At least 2 Canadian women and their children left ISIS detention camp

At least two women, along with their children, have left an ISIS detention camp in Syria and are expected to return to Canada this week, CBC News has learned. It is unclear what role Canada played in the repatriation effort.

Canada’s position has been that, for security reasons, it would not send consular assistance to meet these women, although a number of other Western countries have done so. France repatriated 40 children and 15 women from Kurdish-run camps in Syria last week.

Global Affairs Canada said that due to privacy concerns, it « cannot share repatriation details for operational security reasons » or the identities of those brought home.

Polman’s repatriation comes eight months after United Nations human rights experts urged Canada to repatriate Polman and said his conditions met the definition of « torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment ».

Health issues cited

“Her health is very poor and she is in a very, very precarious condition and state of health and I am sure that is a big part of why she is being brought home,” Greenspon said.

Polman qualified for « extraordinary assistance » under a new policy adopted last year by Global Affairs Canada for those who could not be treated in Syria for life-threatening medical conditions, according to Greenspon.

CBC News asked Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino on Tuesday about the government’s involvement in the latest repatriation efforts. “We are not talking about any individual case,” he replied.

“Supporting a terrorist group, whether here or abroad, is a serious criminal offence,” Mendicino said Tuesday. « Those who engage in this kind of activity will face the full force of the law. »

Canada also helped facilitate the repatriation of a five-year-old Canadian orphan in 2020 and a four-year-old girl and later her mother in 2021.

Human Rights Watch estimates that before today, about four dozen Canadian men, women and children – most under the age of six – remained in detention camps in Syria.

LOOK | Canadian mothers inside an IS detention camp:

evans syria children.jpg?crop=1

Canadian mothers inside an ISIS detention camp

As news spreads in Syria’s al-Roj detention camp for families of ISIS fighters that a four-year-old Canadian girl has been released, other mothers scramble to send their own children in a safe place. Some say they couldn’t survive without them, while others beg Canada to bring them to safety.

Farida Deif, the Canadian director of Human Rights Watch, hopes the latest round of repatriations signals that the government is changing its policy and bringing more home. She calls the government’s approach piecemeal and increasingly aberrant compared to other countries.

« Really, the government’s approach so far has been abysmal, » Deif said.

« The Prime Minister was unwilling to spend political capital repatriating anyone suspected of having ties to ISIS and has essentially abandoned Canadians in unlawful, inhumane and squalid conditions of detention. »

The prime minister said on Tuesday the government had protocols in place and was paying « special attention to the welfare of children » in the camps.

Global Affairs said the government « remains steadfast in its vigilance for the safety and security of Canadians and is taking a robust approach to this issue. »


Back to top button