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e-3623 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by John Letts from Oxford,

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • There are currently 26 Canadian citizens being held in detention facilities or camps in North East Syria;
  • Those being held in detention facilities have not been charged with any offences nor faced a fair trial, making the detentions arbitrary and unlawful;
  • The conditions of their detention break all internationally recognized standards and norms with some detainees reporting being tortured;
  • The detentions are a breach of their human rights;
  • Those in camps are living in extremely cramped conditions with reported cases of malnutrition, violence, and little to no access to running water;
  • The Canadian Government has claimed they cannot assist with repatriations because they have no diplomatic presence in the country, however they have also failed to provide their citizens with any alternatives;
  • Regardless, the Canadian Government has shown that they have the ability to repatriate citizens from Syria, as seen with the case of the child called Amira who was repatriated last year;
  • Furthermore, the forces holding the Canadian citizens have expressed a willingness to facilitate the repatriations; and
  • By not even attempting to assist with repatriation, the Canadian Government is neglecting its responsibilities to its citizens and is complicit in the arbitrary detention of its citizens.
We, the undersigned, Canadian citizens, call upon the Government of Canada to immediately begin the process to repatriate the 26 Canadian citizens (14 children, 8 women and 4 men) currently being detained in North East Syria.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada is aware of the situation of Canadian citizens detained in north-eastern Syria (NES), and is particularly concerned with cases of Canadian children. The safety and security of Canadians remains the utmost priority for the Government of Canada.

The Government of Canada took measures as early as 2011 to advise Canadian citizens to avoid travel to Syria and to depart the country.

Canada has provided some consular assistance to Canadians detained in NES, mainly through continued engagement with the Syrian Kurdish authorities. This has included verifying the whereabouts and well-being of Canadians, requesting available medical care and conveying Canada’s expectations that Canadians be treated humanely and in a manner which complies with applicable obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The Government of Canada adopted a Policy Framework to address the unique nature of the complex cases of Canadians in Syria. The policy serves to guide decision-making on whether to extend extraordinary assistance, including repatriation, to Canadians detained in the region in accordance with a number of principles, including the prioritization of unaccompanied children and the need to mitigate potential threats to public safety and national security.

Due to privacy concerns, the Government of Canada cannot comment on its provision of consular services to specific individuals.

The government continues to monitor the situation in NES.

Open for signature
October 29, 2021, at 2:02 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
December 28, 2021, at 2:02 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Elizabeth May (Saanich—Gulf Islands)
June 20, 2022 (Petition No. 441-00622)
Government response tabled
September 20, 2022
Photo - Elizabeth May
Saanich—Gulf Islands
Green Party Caucus
British Columbia