02:57 GMT +313 November 2019
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    French Foreign Minister Heading to Iraq to Fast-Track Judicial Framework to Try Jihadists - Reports

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    Paris and other European countries have expressed a desire to transfer thousands of suspected Daesh (ISIS)* militants from detention in Syria to Iraq in a bid to reduce the risk of the fighters escaping captivity and attempting to return to Europe.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will be traveling to Baghdad in the coming hours to discuss a judicial framework which would allow suspected jihadists presently jailed in Syria, including those of French origin, to face trial in Iraq, Reuters has reported.

    Earlier, Le Drian told France’s BFM-TV that France was looking to “work things out with the Iraqi authorities so that we can find the ways to have a judicial mechanism that is able to try all these fighters, including obviously the French fighters.”

    “There needs to be an ad hoc judicial system and that’s what we’ll be talking to the Iraqi authorities about,” the foreign minister explained. “A certain number of those held in Syria by the Kurds committed crimes in Iraq, which means they can be held accountable there,” he added.

    Le Drian also pointed to the recent incident in Syria over the weekend in which nine French female Daesh suspects had escaped Kurdish custody at the Ain Issa camp in northwestern Syria amid the Turkish offensive in the area.

    Women who joined Daesh should be tried the same as men, although France would seek to bring children back, Le Drian said.

    “The French women who went to this region in 2015 knew what they were doing. They aren’t tourists. They are fighters against France and must face trial [in Iraq] if possible,” Le Drian said, stressing that these women must be brought to justice.

    The French government estimates that as many as 400 people with French passports, 300 of them family members of male jihadists, are currently held in northern Syria by Kurdish forces.

    Along with France, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have mulled the creation of an international court in Iraq to try suspected Daesh members, with one hurdle being the existence of the death penalty in Iraq’s criminal code. The Death penalty is outlawed throughout the European Union under the European Convention on Human Rights. Iraq makes liberal use of the death penalty, and has sentenced nearly a dozen convicted Daesh fighters of French origin to death in 2019.

    *A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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