The Netherlands argues for international tribunal in Iraq against IS fighters

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

EU commissioner Julian King (Security Affairs) welcomes the decision of some EU countries to bring back children from IS fighters to their own country. More than a thousand small and young children reside in Syria and Iraq, at least one parent from a EU country. That is a problem that needs to be addressed quickly, said the EU Commissioner in Brussels on Wednesday when presenting his annual report.

According to the EU commissioner, almost half of the 1,400 mostly young children are currently in one way or another in camps or in detention, among which 90 children with a Dutch background. Recently the Netherlands, France and Belgium have brought a number of children back, especially orphans. EU Commissioner King pointed out that repatriation is a competence of countries themselves. However, the European Union can be helpful.

The Netherlands says it does not want to get mothers and children of IS fighters from Syria because that would be too dangerous. Last summer, two young Dutch orphans from a deceased Syrian person were brought to the Netherlands, but The Hague called that a high exception.

Moreover, the Netherlands believes that European IS fighters should be tried in Iraq, so that their children should stay there. But in the Dutch parliament, and also within the center-right four-party coalition of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, there is great disagreement about this.

Iraq is not prepared to try foreign IS fighters, currently trapped in prison camps in Syria, in Iraq. That is what Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim said on Tuesday in NRC Handelsblad. & #8220; We take responsibility for our Iraqi citizens, their wives and children & #8221 ;, said the minister. He also called on European countries to take responsibility for their own nationals. The minister pointed out that Iraq cannot try foreigners for crimes that were not committed in Iraq.

If it is certain that European IS & #8217; s have committed crimes in Iraq, they can be tried, but then European countries do not want the death penalty to be applied. Minister Stef Blok (Foreign Affairs) states that the Netherlands will not cooperate in trials if the death penalty is an option. However, Iraq is not prepared to amend the law on that point.

With this attitude, Iraq seems to be closing the door for Dutch proposals for the establishment of an international tribunal in Iraq where foreign IS fighters should be tried. The Netherlands hopes to find a solution for the foreign IS & #8217; ers that are currently detained in prison camps in northern Syria.

Blok says in response that it will not be easy to try Dutch people in Iraq, but will not give up the plan. According to the latest figures, there are currently 55 adult Dutch Jihad fighters in prisons that until recently were guarded by the Kurdish forces. After the recent Turkish invasion and the American withdrawal from the area, there is a power vacuum and the fate of imprisoned IS & #8217 is uncertain.