ISIS-only tribunal: selective, politicised justice will do more harm than good

Amidst heightened fears that ISIS fighters could escape captivity in north-eastern Syria as a result of the Turkish incursion into the region, powerful European states are pressing ahead with attempts to wash their hands of their own citizens with ISIS ties by establishing a hybrid tribunal or similar mechanism limited to trying ISIS-affiliated perpetrators of international crimes in Iraq, and possibly also Syria. Such a tribunal would leave victims’ needs unmet, threaten prospects for reconciliation in Iraq and Syria, and risk further undermining already fragile trust in international justice.

To do justice to ISIS’ victims and prevent a resurgence of the extremist group, the international community must pursue accountability for ISIS and others who have committed grave abuses in Iraq and Syria, but resist adopting a counterproductively politicised and selective approach that would appear to encourage impunity and worsen rather than alleviate conflict in the longer term.

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