T&T Trying to Bring Home 90+ Citizens Involved in Syria’s Civil War

Amery Browne
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The Government is seeking to bring home more than 90 Trinidad and Tobago citizens who are detained in Syria, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Amery Browne.

However, Brown warns that the situation cannot be settled overnight.

“The Government is treating with the very serious national security implications of persons of any category who would be returning or potentially returning from conflict zones,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“That is not going to be an overnight development. It is a multi-ministry, multi-disciplinary team that is hard at work in such regard.”

Browne was responding to questions from the media about a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published on Tuesday which accused the government of the twin-island republic of taking almost no action to repatriate the group of mostly children who have been unlawfully detained in life-threatening conditions as Islamic State (ISIS) suspects and family members in northeast Syria.

The ‘Trinidad and Tobago: Bring Home Nationals from Northeast Syria’ report indicated that approximately 90 to 100 nationals were detained in Roj and al-Hol, two locked camps for families with alleged ISIS links, by US-backed, Kurdish-led regional forces. HRW said the detainees include about 21 women, at least one of them a grandmother, and at least 56 children.

Browne told journalists at Wednesday’s press conference that Attorney General Reginald Armour had already responded to the HRW on Government’s behalf.

He also noted that while the United States had offered to aid countries in repatriating their citizens from Syria, the matter was a complex one.

“It is not just a case of conveying individuals from the Middle East to the Caribbean or Trinidad and Tobago. When we speak about preparatory work and the types of steps that are required, we are also talking about treating the domestic national security environment, and that’s something that we and our national stakeholders have to treat with,” the Foreign Affairs Minister said.

“But we are always open to and we always welcome collaborations with our key international partners, including the United States.”

In its report, HRW called on the government to not only repatriate their citizens being held in Syria but to provide individualized rehabilitation and reintegration support for returnees.

“Once home, adults implicated in serious ISIS-related crimes can be prosecuted in line with international due process standards,” it added.

HRW said it had interviewed six Trinidadians held in the camps and prisons in 2022 and 2019, and seven family members, an attorney, and three advocates representing the detainees from December to February 2023. It also reviewed court documents related to cases filed by the families seeking to compel the government to bring home their loved ones.


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