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UN experts welcome effective cooperation of Ireland & Turkey

GENEVA (30 January 2020) – UN human rights experts* have commended Ireland and Turkey for their cooperative and effective engagement ensuring the return of Lisa Smith and her infant child to Ireland last December.

Ms. Smith, an Irish national, had been held in the Ain Issa displacement camp in northeast Syria. She had travelled to Syria several years earlier and was married to an individual associated with a UN-listed terrorist group.

“The close cooperation between Ireland and Turkey has led to her safe return and both States fulfilled their obligations to ensure the full protection of Ms. Smith and her daughter’s human rights,” the independent experts said.

They commended the prompt engagement of both Governments with the Special Procedures mandates and their ongoing communication concerning the protection of Ms. Smith and her daughter.

Given the particular health and security risks faced by the infant child in these circumstances, the experts also commended the emphasis placed on her speedy return to mitigate those concerns. They also welcomed the deployment of an Emergency Civilian Assistance Team to Turkey by Ireland to support the Irish consular team in Ankara.

“Other States should take notice and deploy this intensive and specialized inter-agency model to ensure the safe and human rights compliant return of their own nationals from Syria and Iraq,” they said.

Acknowledging the broader context of ongoing insecurity and human rights’ infringements for women and child returnees, the independent experts encouraged States to work as effectively, intensively and cooperatively as in this case, to ensure the full enforcement of applicable human rights and humanitarian norms. They also encouraged States to recognize that women and children associated with ISIS may have been subjected to serious human rights violations and gender-based violence during and prior to their detention in camps such as Ain Issa.

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