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Two Canadian women who returned from Syrian camp to be released on bail

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Ontario judges have ordered that two women who were arrested upon returning to Canada last week from a prison camp in northeastern Syria be released on bail.
Ammara Amjad, second from left, raises her hand during court proceedings as shown in a courtroom sketch in Brampton, Ont., Tuesday, April 11, 2023. Amjad's lawyer Branden Miller, left to right, Justice Kathryn Hawke, and crown prosecutors A. Schacter and A. Webb are seen looking on. Amjad was one of two women freed from prison camps in northeastern Syria who were arrested by an RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team INSET after arriving at the Montreal-Trudeau International Airport. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould

BRAMPTON, Ont. — Ontario judges have ordered that two women who were arrested upon returning to Canada last week from a prison camp in northeastern Syria be released on bail.

Ammara Amjad and Dure Ahmed were ordered released pending terrorism peace bond applications under conditions that cannot be detailed that are subject to publication bans.

The two women appeared Tuesday at the Ontario court of justice in Brampton, Ont., for separate bail hearings.

They were among four Canadian women and 10 children who landed in Montreal last week after being held for years at the al-Roj prison camp. Three of the women were arrested upon arrival, while the fourth was not detained.

Another woman who was among the group Canada repatriated from Syria was released on bail Friday in Edmonton pending a terrorism peace bond application. RCMP in Alberta said Friday the 38-year-old woman is subject to conditions while she awaits the peace bond process but did not specify what those were.

Under a terrorism peace bond, a judge can order the defendant to enter into an arrangement to be of good behaviour or possibly face a prison sentence. Conditions such as a curfew or prohibition on having weapons might be attached.

The al-Roj prison camp is one of two displaced persons camps in the region that is now controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which runs what is known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.

Detainees in the camps are mostly women and children who were rounded up after the fall of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2019. Some are relatives of suspected ISIS fighters but have never been brought before a court. None of the women who were arrested upon arrival in Canada are charged with a crime.

About 10,000 of the detainees are foreign nationals from more than 60 countries outside Syria and Iraq. The Kurds have asked those countries to repatriate their citizens.

United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said last month countries like Canada have a responsibility to bring their citizens home from the camps, which he said have the "worst possible conditions" and are depriving people of their rights.

The latest flight to Canada had been expected to bring more people home from Syria.

Lawyer Lawrence Greenspon reached an agreement with the federal government in January to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 children who had been part of a court action. The 10 children are all with relatives, said Greenspon.

However, two mothers and three children were not at a designated meeting point and missed the flight, Greenspon has said. He said he expects Global Affairs Canada will try to locate the five people and return them to Canada as well.

A Quebec mother and her six children, who also wanted to come to Canada, are not among the returnees either, Greenspon said.

While the six children have been ruled eligible for repatriation from Syria, their mother has been told she cannot join them because her security assessment is incomplete.

A Federal Court judge ruled On Jan. 20 that Canada must repatriate four Canadian men held in the camps. The federal government appealed that ruling that was heard in late March. A decision has not yet been issued.

A terrorism peace bond is also being sought for Kimberly Polman, a British Columbia woman repatriated to Canada from Syria last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 11, 2023.

Tyler Griffin, The Canadian Press

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