23:59 GMT12 May 2021
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    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has responded to US President Donald Trump's call to repatriate hundreds of Daesh* fighters to Europe. He said that German citizens could return to Germany only if it's ensured that they can be taken into custody immediately.

    Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said that while the government has always intended to bring back children under the age of 10, others would be dealt with on a "case by case" basis. French Justice Minister Nicole Belloublet said that France would not respond to President Trump's demands.

    Earlier, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said that dozens of adult Norwegian militants in Syria are free to return home and face trial, adding that the country would not bring anyone from the Arab Republic proactively. Sweden said that it is prepared to reintegrate the fighters into the society, which would include setting up a psychological helpline. 150 militants have already returned to Sweden. Denmark's Michael Aastrup Jensen, foreign policy spokesman for the governing Venstre party, said that those are some of the most dangerous people on Earth and that they were not going to have them back. In the past years, some 150 Danish citizens have gone to fight in Syria.

    Radio Sputnik has discussed the possibility of Europe taking back Daesh fighters from Syria with Andrea De Guttry, professor of public international law and director of the International Research Laboratory on Conflict, Development and Global Politics at Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy.

    Sputnik: Now what is the best way for the authorities in Europe to handle the returning fighters, in your opinion? What is Italy's take on this?

    Andrea De Guttry: Well, let me just make a few introductory statements, very briefly, to better understand the issue. We are speaking of about 800 foreign fighters. Most of them, or almost all of them, are European citizens but there are [as] well 2,000 other persons related to them, mainly females and children. Secondly, it is important to highlight that currently, they are detained by the Kurdish forces, so not by another government.

    READ MORE: US Should Be Careful in Making Clear What Its Purpose in Syria Is — Scholar

    Now, the general obligation of all states is to prevent and prosecute any kind of activities carried out by foreign terrorist fighters. Now, in the moment, President Trump requests these persons to be taken back by the European countries. That is a legitimate request, but we should not forget that first of all, the obligation of all states [is] to cooperate and to inform. This is one of the requests of the Germans, that they should have more information about what kind of crime, what kind of illegal activities they have performed to allow the Germans to take care of them in a proper manner.

    Secondly, as far as Italy is concerned, I would like to highlight that the position of Italy is to say that obviously, in principle, we are ready to respect our international obligations, which imply that we have to take back Italian citizens, provided that we get additional information which allows our judiciary to deal with them in a proper manner.

    Sputnik: Well, in many ways you have answered a lot of the questions. Maybe I will just ask you this one about the interesting case with regard to 19-year-old Daesh* bride Shamima Begum, because Britain's decision to withdraw her citizenship has obviously a raised a lot of debate in the United Kingdom. I am sure there are similar cases potentially in Italy. What is Italy's and your stance on Britain's decision with this young lady?

    Andrea De Guttry: Yes, we have. There might be a certain number of similar cases in Italy of persons having dual citizenship. Now, there is one general rule which is not to be forgotten, that is to say that states are not allowed to revoke citizenship unless the persons have committed serious crimes and this revoking of the citizenship is done according to national and international law.

    One of the reasons for this is that states are in principle obliged to re-accept their citizens who left their countries. So, if one country allows British citizens to come into the country, they do this on the assumption that at a certain moment they could send them back to the UK and therefore if the UK revokes the citizenship this would not work. There are other problems related to this issue of revoking citizenship, because this might be considered as well as a violation of human rights.

    READ MORE: Jihadi Bride Out, White Helmets In

    Now, the only way to overcome this is to consider if the person has another citizenship, because there are rules which prohibit a state to leave a person without any citizenship. This was the case of the UK, because they took away British citizenship from a person who had another citizenship, but the question is still controversial. So far in Italy, we have not had an identical case.

    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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