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Amnesty boss: "Human rights can't be denied based on security concerns"

Prime Minister Sanna Marin has announced a plan to repatriate Finnish children from Syria as soon as possible.

al-holin naisia ja lapsia
Al-Holin leirin naisia ja lapsia. Image: Delil Souleiman / AFP

The security debate around Finns in the al-Hol camp is in overdrive, Director of Amnesty Finland Frank Johansson told Yle on Tuesday. He said he thinks it is strange that the security of every citizen would be jeopardised if the five to 10 Finnish women in question were repatriated.

"If that's the case, then I'm a little worried about the security work of Finnish authorities," Johansson said in an interview on Yle's morning television programme Aamu-tv.

There are thought to be roughly 30 Finnish children and around ten Finnish women at the al-Hol camp in northern Syria, which holds refugees who lived under Isis rule.

Human rights trump safety concerns, Johansson declared.

"There can never be a policy where human rights are negated due to security concerns. Human rights must always be considered and security policies must be based on that. That would mean bringing them (for women and children) back home."

The longer the children live in the al-Hol camp, it would be harder to raise them as they may become more radicalised, said Hanna Markkula-Kivisilta, Secretary General of Save the Children Finland.

"It's quite clear that the kids are being massively brainwashed in the camp. But it is possible to help them out of it. Not with more brainwashing, but by creating safe experiences and helping them believe there are other options," Markkula-Kivisilta said.

"Their ideology does not make them bad parents"

Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Monday announced a plan to repatriate Finnish children from Syria as soon as possible. The government said that its 10-point guidelines aim to safeguard the best interests of the child at all times and that a decision on the repatriation of each individual will be made on case-by-case basis.

"It has been frustrating to listen to the debate about helping children but not mothers because this is a matter that cannot be categorically resolved. The government has said that they will make the decision on a case-by-case basis, and we are pleased with that," Markkula-Kivisilta said.

A parent's ideology does not however automatically make him or her a bad guardian, according to Annarilla Ahtola, president of the Finnish Psychological Association.

"It is important to distinguish between two issues — what we think of their values and what kind of parents they are to their children. What matters to the kids is the conditions parents have created for them. Of course, in this case, they are not suitable for a child," Ahtola added.

The government guidelines indicated that its primary objective is to help the children but that "there is no obligation to assist adults who have entered the area voluntarily."

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