The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trafficked Britons in Syria (the APPG) opened an inquiry in April 2021, to examine the UK Government’s response to trafficking operations by ISIS and its ongoing treatment of potential British victims of trafficking currently detained in North East Syria (NES).
Over the course of its inquiry, which concluded in December 2021, the APPG sought written submissions from a range of individuals and organisations and invited anti-trafficking experts, global security experts, and the families of individuals currently detained in NES to attend oral evidence sessions.
The APPG has now published the report of its inquiry. The co-chairs of the APPG, the Lord Jay of Ewelme, the Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, and Lyn Brown MP have issued a statement to accompany the release of the report.
The findings of the report raise serious questions about the UK Government’s policy towards its nationals detained in North East Syria. As the inquiry found, there was a “systemic failure” by UK authorities to stop vulnerable Britons from being trafficked by ISIS. Its current policy of refusing to repatriate them and stripping them of citizenship has caused a range of harms, including violating the rights of children, causing a devastating impact on minority communities, and fostering impunity and hindering access to justice. Further, the UK’s approach puts both UK and global security in serious danger. A full list of the APPG’s findings may be accessed here.
The report issues a number of recommendations for the Government. These include suspending the use of the “conducive to the public good” citizenship deprivation power, implementing policies to tackle trafficking by terrorist groups, and investigating trafficking and providing support to victims in NES. Above all, the APPG calls on the Government to address the humanitarian and security catastrophe unfolding in NES: by immediately repatriating all British nationals from the region.