The woman detained at the Turkish border who was born in New Zealand left here at a young age for Australia. This confirms the information released in 2016 by the Director of the Secret Intelligence Service, that the women travelling to Syria had lived in Australia for many years and had left from there. For this reason, IWCNZ holds the Australian government as having the primary responsibility in this case.
However, we would caution that there are two young children whose wellbeing should not be lost in any tussle between the two governments. Those children are caught up in this situation through no fault of their own.
As a normal part of the justice process, as would be the case for any other crime, the woman in this case should go through a rehabilitation and deradicalisation process to ensure that she is able to be a good parent to her children. In response to the Royal Commission report into the Christchurch mosque attacks, the government announced investment into a Multi-Agency Coordination and Intervention Programme, to be led by the NZ Police.
This situation shows the urgent need for such a programme, which our community on our own does not have the resourcing or expertise to develop. It is needed not just for case like this, but for other types of extremism already visible in New Zealand.
Research shows the rehabilitation and deradicalisation programmes work best when there is support from family and the wider community. In this particular case, the woman concerned has family in Australia, and it would be most effective to place her there after she had gone through the justice process in Turkey.
IWCNZ calls on both the Australian and New Zealand governments to put the wellbeing of the children at the heart of any decisions they make, both in terms of their immediate and long-term future.