London – The recent escalation of events in Syria following the announcement of an imminent Turkish excursion in the region highlights the need for urgent action to repatriate UK citizens held in prison camps. The risks of instability creates a real and present danger to the lives of civilians and detainees. 

The British policy of abandonment and citizenship deprivation, a process akin to medieval exile, is irresponsible in the context of a region blighted by war. It is also counterproductive to ending cycles of violence. The UK does not lack laws to prosecute those who may have been involved in crimes overseas.

With news surfacing of the inhumane conditions in prison camps in Syria, described as ‘reminiscent of concentration camps’, and the inaction of the British government, the parents of Jack Letts will be protesting at 12 noon this Thursday 10/10/2019 in Trafalgar Square to demand the repatriation of British citizens and an end to this policy.

Speaking to CAGE, Sally Lane, mother of Jack Letts, said:

“We were horrified when we saw our son Jack, amongst those men all crammed together like veal calves going to the slaughter. This has been his reality for two-and-a-half years, despite explicitly condemning IS in 2015 and making all attempts to come home.”  

 “The UK government’s behaviour towards Jack and us has been callous and deceitful. Boris Johnson’s statement on the issue – which was exposed under a freedom of information request – was that the government didn’t need to act because “press coverage and political opinion is not sympathetic to the Letts family or Mr Letts’ predicament”, in other words, the government believes it does not need to abide by international law in the case of ‘unpopular people’.”

“It is now time to mobilise the wide-ranging support we have received to show that Jack must be brought home to face trial, and that British people do not believe in illegal detention. We cannot do this alone.”

Cerie Bullivant, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

“The UK has an arsenal of laws to prosecute those accused of wrongdoing overseas. However, abandoning people in indefinite detention, in deplorable conditions, and weaponising the secretive citizenship deprivation process to absolve ourselves of all responsibility towards a conflict in which our country has been complicit is counterproductive.”

“The precarious nature of the Syrian conflict must result in immediate action from the UK government to repatriate British nationals held in prison camps there. In this way, the UK can contribute towards ending ongoing cycles of violence. It is for this reason we are supporting the call for a protest by the Letts family.”

 

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)