ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – France supports the prosecution of Islamic State fighters now in custody in Syria and Iraq, but an international tribunal is a “complex operation,” France’s Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
The statement was made during a press briefing on Syria and later published on the ministry’s website.
Asked whether Paris backs calls by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for an international court to try Islamic State members being held by it, a spokesperson for the French ministry said the idea is complicated.
“The creation of such an ad hoc international tribunal is a complex operation. Its implementation would give rise to legal and practical difficulties,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Following victory in a prolonged military offensive on the extremist group’s last remaining pocket of territory in war-torn Syria, the SDF have called for the establishment of “a special international tribunal in northeast Syria to prosecute terrorists.”
With the establishment of an international court, “trials can be conducted fairly and in accordance with international law and human rights covenants and charters,” the SDF said in a statement on Monday.
“France favors the prosecution of [ISIS] fighters in the place they committed their crimes,” the spokesperson noted during Tuesday’s press briefing. “It is a matter of justice as well as security.”
Indeed, France is closely following an ongoing trial of at least 14 of its nationals suspected of Islamic State membership in Iraq.
The US-backed SDF say they currently have over 5,000 Islamic State members in their custody since the beginning of the year and warned it does not have the capacity to detain the large numbers of suspects and have called nations to repatriate their citizens.
So far, European states have been reluctant to bring back Islamic State fighters or women accused of membership in the extremist group and their children who are stuck in Syria.
Many EU countries fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home.
Editing by John J. Catherine