Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Home ECJ The Netherlands and EU may have the Kurds try their IS fighters

The Netherlands and EU may have the Kurds try their IS fighters

The Netherlands wants to investigate with other EU countries whether it is possible to cooperate with Kurds in the trial of European IS jihad fighters. The Dutch minister Stef Blok (Foreign Affairs) does not reject legal cooperation in advance. The Kurds in northern Syria have been detaining thousands of "foreign" IS fighters for almost two years.

Minister Blok wants to see if there are possibilities to have IS fighters tried by the Kurdish authorities. He says that in response to an announcement from the Kurds yesterday, that they are going to handle the trial themselves. The Kurds have repeatedly asked European countries to take back 'their' IS fighters, and to try for their war crimes. But most EU countries do not want to take back those 'dangerous jihadist terrorists'.

In Kurdish detention centers in Northern Syria, more than 2000 foreigners are detained who are suspected of membership of IS. Since the fall of the Caliphate, the Syrian Kurds have been detaining thousands of IS suspects, including many women and children. According to the Dutch intelligence service, there are 55 Dutch people in Kurdish camps, a quarter of whom are women.

The Kurds are disappointed that Western countries do not repatriate Syrians and that there is no international tribunal to try the jihadists. That is why the Kurds came Friday with the plan to go to trial in March by means of a new special tribunal.

So far, the Kurds have only tried Syrian and Iraqi fighters. They did not want to do that with the foreigners, because they have neither the mandate nor the means. Until now, the Dutch government maintained that trial by the Kurds is impossible because the Kurds do not govern an autonomous country and the Netherlands does not have official relations with them.

According to the Dutch minister, it remains an obstacle that the Kurds do not have the necessary legislation and judiciary. That is why Blok would like to work together with other European countries that are looking for a way to try the Syrians. This includes the lending of lawyers and experts, or co-financing of the costs of proceedings.

The Netherlands prefers to bring IS fighters to an international tribunal. That could be a new international UN court, or be assigned to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A second option is to try Iraq if at least a fair trial can be guaranteed there and the death penalty is not applied.

Neither of the options has been found to date. Even with a procedure organized by the Kurds, not in Iraq, but also in Syria, Blok says that doubts can be raised about fair and impartial trial. The Dutch minister wants to ask the Kurds what such a tribunal should look like in practice. The Netherlands will also demand legal guarantees.

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