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16 December 2021

Bindmans partner Tayab Ali travels to Canada as part of campaign to repatriate Jack Letts and other Canadian citizens detained in Syria

2 mins

Bindmans partner Tayab Ali has returned from a week-long campaign trip to Canada with the parents of Jack Letts.

Jack is a 25-year-old Canadian citizen who has been imprisoned without charge in Northern Syria since May 2017, for allegedly joining the Islamic State. Jack was originally a dual UK-Canadian citizen, but the British government stripped him of his citizenship in 2019.

He has had no access to a lawyer, nor any form of consular assistance from the Canadian government since his imprisonment, and the conditions in which he is being kept are reportedly squalid and inhumane. When Jack last had contact with his parents, he informed them that he had been tortured, denied food, interrogated, and held for extended periods in solitary confinement, which led to him attempting to take his own life. 

Along with Jack’s parents, Tayab has spent the past week in Ottawa, meeting with various Members of Parliament, Senators, journalists, and members of civil society to advocate for Jack’s repatriation to Canada, where he should have access to a fair trial under international and humanitarian law. Expanding on this, the campaign also urged the government to repatriate all of the Canadian citizens currently being held in Syrian detention camps. Human Rights Watch has estimated that there are over 40 Canadians detained in Syria as a result of suspected Islamic State connections.

During their time in Canada, Tayab and John Letts, Jack’s father, spoke at Carleton University’s conference ‘Held without charge: the call to repatriate Canadian citizens detained in Northeast Syria’. Rewatch their speeches here

Jack’s parents have been trying to secure Jack’s repatriation for over four years, but the Canadian and British governments have done little to assist. In October, Tayab Ali and Ella Jefferson, solicitor in our Criminal law team, submitted a complaint to the United Nations against the UK and Canadian governments, describing both their action and inaction in this case, which have amounted to a violation of Jack’s right to life. Read more about the complaint, and Jack’s story, here.

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