Try Dutch ISIS fighters in the Netherlands

Image: ISIS-bruiden in noordoost Syrië. Bron: Quentin Sommerville / Twitter.

November 19, 2019

ISIS fighters must be put on trial. But where, and how?

PAX has a clear standpoint: the Dutch government must take responsibility for its own citizens and put the Dutch ISIS members on trial here in the Netherlands. PAX, together with Impunity Watch and the Syrian Center for Media, explains in a policy brief how and why this should be done.

Tens of thousands of ISIS suspects and their families are currently being held in prisons and camps in northeastern Syria. They represent a major security risk, which was demonstrated by recent escapes from the camps. As long as ISIS fighters are held in the region, there is a chance that they will escape and go to other communities. The security risks that the ISIS fighters and their families pose can be controlled much better if the Dutch ISIS members are detained, tried and re-integrated here.

Dutch citizens

In addition, the Dutch ISIS fighters and their families are Dutch citizens. The government has an obligation to try these people themselves, particularly if there is no chance they will be tried in the region or if such a trial does not meet the minimum standards of a fair trial and or respect their human rights. It is also important for the Dutch children of ISIS members to be removed from the radicalizing environment of the prisons and camps as quickly as possible. These Dutch children are now trapped in places where the situation is inhumane. There have been cases of children dying due to the conditions in the camps. The state owes it to these children to bring them back to the Netherlands.

Appealing the verdict

Yet the government refuses to bring the Dutch ISIS fighters back to the Netherlands and put them on trial them here, even if the American and Turkish governments were to offer assistance. The children will not be brought back either. The Dutch government has gone so far as to appeal a lower court’s verdict that the Netherlands must make an active effort to get the children back from the camps in northeast Syria.

Do you want to know more about why ISIS fighters can be better tried in the Netherlands? Read the policy brief.

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