Western states are surprised by the move, but the Kurdish-led administration cites the unwillingness of the inmates’ home countries to accept them as justification.
Following years of detention without charges, the Kurdish-led government in northeast Syria said on Sunday that it will begin the process of trying hundreds of accused foreign members of the ISIS.
Foreign diplomats were taken aback by the statement, but the Kurdish-led administration cited the reluctance of the international world to accept its own nationals and let them to be tried in their individual nations as justification for the action.
Up to 10,000 alleged IS inmates and their families are held by the US-supported Kurdish administration, which runs independent of Damascus.
While the families, including children, are housed in camps, the combatants are detained in jails.
The Kurdish government declared in a statement that it will hold its own “open, free, and transparent trials” for inmates.
The statement said that the autonomous administration has “called on the international community to fulfil its duties regarding finding a solution for the captured ISIS militants” ever since the battle of Baghouz. They also stated that they had previously put up plans to create an international court.
“It is against international laws and conventions to not bring those militants before a court.”
The trials will be open to the public, according to senior administration official Badran Jia Kurd. The US-led coalition and rights organizations that helped Kurdish-led forces drive the ISIS out of large portions of northern Syria will also be invited.
It has proven difficult for states to resolve the contentious issue of foreign fighters. In addition to worries that their anti-terrorism laws would not ensure long prison sentences, many nations are hesitant to send back their citizens for fear of political repercussions.
Nobody anticipated they would act in this manner. We take it very seriously that they are detaining so many people, but this is a different issue from trying them. According to a western diplomat who spoke to Reuters, “trying them is a whole different beast.”
There are also questions about the legal basis of these processes and whether they can be carried out without Damascus’ consent.
This process requires very high security precautions. Until now, IS fighters have been looking for weak spots to free their comrades.
Last January, IS fighters rammed two vehicles laden with explosives into a detention center, forcing hundreds of fighters to flee.
About 10,000 men and hundreds of adolescent boys are being held in 14 overcrowded prisons in the Hasaka region of northeastern Syria.
Ladies and youngsters live in two camps, al-Roj and al-Hol, which are home to around 60,000 individuals, including around 20,000 from Syria, 31,000 from Iraq and up to 12,000 from different nations.
Since Kurdish-led forces defeated IS in 2019 and took control of Syrian territory held by the armed group, many of them have been held captive.
In March, US General Michael Kurilla, who is in charge of US Central Command, went to the camps and demanded that “the camp residents back into their countries and communities of origin” be repatriated, rehabilitated, and reintegrated.