The Netherlands must "actively" help repatriate children of women who joined the ISIS terrorist group in Syria, but the mothers themselves need not be taken back, a Dutch court has ruled.
Monday's ruling by a judge at The Hague's district court came after lawyers representing 23 women launched a lawsuit last week demanding the Netherlands return them and their 56 children from detention camps in northern Syria.
Judge Hans Vetter said that while the women did not need to be repatriated, the state must make "all possible efforts" to return the children, who have Dutch nationality and are under 12 years of age. Most children are younger than six.
"The children cannot be held responsible for the actions of their parents, however serious these may be," the court said in a statement. "The children are victims of the actions of their parents."
The women, however, "were aware of the crimes being committed by ISIS and must be tried," it said.
The Dutch government has always insisted it was too dangerous for Dutch officials to go into the camps and find the women and children to return them to the Netherlands.