New Zealand agreed that a suspected Islamic State member who grew up in Australia can be repatriated from Turkey along with her two young children, a decision Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said was “not taken lightly.”
The woman had dual Australian and New Zealand citizenship until Australia revoked her citizenship and refused to reverse the decision, prompting a furious response earlier this year from Ardern, who accused Australia of shirking its responsibilities.
On Monday, Ardern said the government had “taken into account our international responsibilities, as well as the details of this particular case, including the fact that there are children involved.”
“As most New Zealanders know, I made very strong statements to Australia to be allowed to return there,” continued Ardern.
“She [the woman’s] Her family moved to Australia when she was six years old and she grew up there before leaving for Syria in 2014, with an Australian passport. Unfortunately, Australia will not reverse the cancellation of citizenship.
“However, Australia has subsequently assured us that it will proactively consult with New Zealand if any such cases arise in the future.
“New Zealand cannot take away a person’s citizenship and make them stateless, and as New Zealand citizens, this country is the only place where they can currently legally reside.”
The woman and her two children were detained by officials in Turkey in February when they allegedly tried to enter the country illegally from Syria.
The planning of the family’s return to New Zealand involved the police and several other agencies, but the details of those arrangements will be kept private for security reasons.
Ardern said it is up to the police to decide whether any New Zealander who may be suspected of association with a terrorist group will be investigated under local law.
“Accepting a managed return was the correct step in this case, but we reserve the right to analyze any future cases on a case-by-case basis based on New Zealand’s best interests,” said Ardern.