Sweden proposes international court to try ISIS fighters - report

According to the Financial Times a summit to discuss the proposal will be held in Stockholm in early June. The establishment of such a court could also represent a solution for ISIS foreign fighters.

May 22, 2019 17:51
2 minute read.
A MEMBER of ISIS waves the group’s flag in Raqqa recently

A MEMBER of ISIS waves the group’s flag in Raqqa. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Sweden is pursuing the establishment of an Iraq-based international court to prosecute Islamic state fighters and militants for the crimes committed in Iraq and Syria, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

According to the British newspaper, a summit to discuss the proposal will be held in Stockholm in early June. 
The Swedish government envisions a tribunal modeled after the special courts established to try those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanities in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. 

"This is a moral and symbolic issue — will the world and Europe just treat this [ISIS] as another thing that happened?" Swedish Interior Minister Mikael Damberg told the Financial Times. "Or shall we have it written in the history books that we considered these as very serious crimes?"   

The establishment of such a court could also represent a solution for the issue of ISIS foreign fighters. 

According to a 2018 report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London, 41,490 international citizens from 80 countries became affiliated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria, about 13,000 of whom from European countries. 

After its defeat, thousands of them have returned home or are seeking to do so.

Damberg has been working on rallying support from the European allies.

According to the Financial Times, the UK government has already expressed an interest in the proposal and the Home Office will send a representative to the summit. 

Of the 900 UK nationals who left the country to join ISIS, about 400 have already returned, while many of those who are still in detention or refugee camps in Syria and Iraq are often among the most dangerous. In some cases, the UK has stripped them of their British citizenship on the basis of their links to terrorism.

"People from around the world traveled to fight with [ISIS] in Syria and Iraq. This is an international issue requiring a united response," an unnamed Home Office spokesman told the Financial Times.

"We want to see foreign fighters brought to trial in the most appropriate jurisdiction, which will often be in the region where offenses have been committed and will work with our international partners in pursuit of this," he added. 

Damberg highlighted that to establish the court, Sweden would cooperate closely with the Kurdish allies in the region.

"We would be closer to witnesses, closer to the Kurdish regional forces who have arrested [ISIS fighters]. So of course it is easier in the region," he told the Financial Times. "A local court in a Swedish small town does not really know realities in Iraq or Syria, actually, and it is difficult for them to gather any evidence in the region."
The Kurdish-led administration in northern Syria called for the creation of an international tribunal to try the thousands of suspected ISIS members who were detained last March, according to a report by the BBC. 

The report added that there were about 1,000 foreign fighters held in their prisons. 

Speaking to the BBC, the administration's head of foreign affairs, Abdul Karim Omar, highlighted that the fact that so few countries had accepted to repatriate their citizens who joined ISIS posed a tough challenge for the administration.

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