Australia plans to take militants' children into custody

Australia says foreign fighters may lose their children if they return to the country, after local media reported wife of one militant wants to come back home with her children

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The government of Australia has been considering taking custody of children from militants who fight overseas following media reports that claim the wife of one foreign fighter in Syria wants to return home with her children.

The country's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has told reporters that any decision would be made on a case-by-case basis and would depend on the age of the children.

"If they're infants, for example, then they would be in state care, as we've seen with some people who have decided to abandon their children and go off and fight," he said.

Australian prime minister Tony Abbott on Tuesday announced that his government will strip citizenship from its nationals who have dual-citizenship and are believed to be carrying out attacks at home or overseas as part of militant groups.

The prime minister says that around 100 Australians are allegedly fighting in Iraq and Syria and around 50 percent of them are dual-citizens.  

The new legislation will provide the country’s immigration minister with the authority to remove Australian citizenship from dual-passport holders even if they are not convicted of an offence, yet the decision will be subject to judicial review. Australia is also planning to cancel the passports of 100 people on national security grounds.

The children could become wards of the state if their mother is imprisoned.

The latest announcements came after local media reports claimed the wife and children of Australian Khaled Sharrouf, who has fought with ISIS, are trying to return to Australia.

Last week the government made it clear that anyone who has travelled overseas to fight in the conflicts in the Middle East and now wants to come back after regretting the decision will be heavily prosecuted.

Lawyers representing foreign fighters have been seeking leniency from the Australian government for their clients to return.

“If you go, and you seek to come back, as far as this government is concerned you will be arrested, you will be prosecuted and you will be jailed,” said Abbott, adding Sharrouf's family will also face the same consequences.

Sharrouf's wife, Tara Nettleton, is reportedly trying to return to Australia with her five children, despite the government's warning that she and her children could face charges for terrorist offences.

TRTWorld and agencies