Canadian woman released from Syrian camp released on bail in Alberta

A Canadian woman who returned to Canada this week from a prison in northeastern Syria has been released on bail in Edmonton pending a terrorism peace bond application, Alberta Mounties said Friday.

Lawrence Greenspon, a lawyer who has been helping them get home, said she was one of four Canadian women and 10 children who arrived in Montreal late Wednesday or early Thursday from Largest group of people repatriated from Syria.

Three of the women were arrested on arrival, while the fourth was not detained. Two of them were flown to Brampton, Ont., where they will have a bond hearing Tuesday, Greenspoon said.

A third person was flown to Edmonton for a bond hearing on Thursday. Alberta RCMP said Friday that the 38-year-old woman will be subject to a number of conditions while she awaits the peace bond process, without specifying what.

All 10 children were with relatives, Greenspoon said.

On Jan. 18, Global Affairs Canada agreed that all of them, along with two other women and three other children, could return to Canada. Greenspoon said the other two women and the three children did not board the plane, and he did not yet know why.

“I am confident that Global Affairs Canada will continue to do in good faith what they said they would do, which is to repatriate these two women and three children,” he said.

“They are refugees from war. They are in territories taken over by the Kurds, who (the Kurds) have said to the countries of the world, ‘Please come and take your nationals.'”

The women and children were held for years in the al-Roj prison camp in northeastern Syria. It is one of two camps for displaced people in the region, now controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which run the so-called Syrian Autonomous Government in the north and east.

Most of the detainees in the camp are women and children rounded up after the fall of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2019. Some were relatives of suspected ISIS fighters, but they were never brought to court.

About 10,000 of them were foreigners from more than 60 countries outside of Syria and Iraq. The Kurds are demanding that these countries repatriate their citizens.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said last month that countries like Canada had a responsibility to bring their citizens home from refugee camps, where he said conditions were “the worst possible” and were disenfranchising people.

Alexandra Bain, director of Family Against Violent Extremism, said she is working to help 32 other people in the camp return to Canada. That includes two women and three children who missed their flight this week, as well as a Canadian woman and her six children.

Canada has agreed to return her baby, but has not issued a security clearance to the mother from Quebec. RCMP officials recently visited the camp to interview the Canadians, but Bain said they don’t speak French and the Quebec mothers couldn’t understand them.

She is working with four non-Canadian women and six Canadian men who are mothers of 10 Canadian children living in the camp. Some of them were the fathers of the children, Bain said.

Canada must return four Canadian men being held in refugee camps, a federal court judge ruled Jan. 20. The federal government appealed the ruling, and the appeal was heard in late March. No decision has been made.

If the ruling is upheld, Bain said it would apply not just to the four men involved, but to any Canadians in the camp.

None of the women arrested after arriving in Canada have been charged with a crime, Greenspoon said. Instead, the Crown is pursuing a terrorism peace bond, which can be used when the Crown has reasonable grounds to fear that an individual may commit a terrorist offence.

The link will require individuals to maintain good behavior and abide by certain conditions for up to a year, or face jail time. Those conditions could include curfews and prohibitions on communicating with certain other people, Greenspoon said.

Kimberly Polman, a British Columbia woman who was repatriated to Canada from Syria last year, is also seeking a terrorism peace bond.

Polman was released on bail pending a peace bond hearing, which has not yet been held, Greenspoon said.

Mia Rabson, Canadian Press

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