55,000 linked to Daesh in Syria and Iraq should be tried or freed: UN human rights chief

UN human rights chief said the children have suffered enough already. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 June 2019
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55,000 linked to Daesh in Syria and Iraq should be tried or freed: UN human rights chief

  • Bachelet said countries should take responsibility for their nationals

GENEVA: UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday that 55,000 captured Daesh fighters, including foreigners, and their families detained in Syria and Iraq should face fair trials or be freed.

States “must assume responsibility for their nationals” and should not inflict statelessness on fighters’ children who have already suffered so much, Bachelet also told the UN Human Rights Council as it opened a three-week session in Geneva.

The 55,000 include suspected foreign fighters from nearly 50 countries and 11,000 family members held at the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria “in deeply sub-standard conditions,” she said.

“Accountability through fair trials protects societies from future radicalization and violence,” Bachelet said. “And the continuing detention of individuals not suspected of crimes, in the absence of (a) lawful basis and regular independent judicial review, is not acceptable,” Bachelet said.

Authorities in northeast Syria have been urging Western countries to take back citizens who joined Daesh and their relatives after the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured the group’s last enclave this year.

“Foreign family members should be repatriated unless they are to be prosecuted for crimes in accordance with international standards. Children, in particular, have suffered grievous violations of their rights — including those who may have been indoctrinated or recruited by ISIS to perpetrate violent acts,” Bachelet said.

Few countries have seemed willing to take back their citizens, who may be hard to prosecute, and the issue has led to fierce debate in their home countries where there is little public sympathy for the families of militants.

The United States, France and the Netherlands have each repatriated a small number of women or children from northeast Syria, but many others remain there.

Some children born during the conflict have been left stateless.

“To inflict statelessness on children who have already suffered so much is an act of irresponsible cruelty’,” Bachelet said. “I urge all states to assume responsibility for their nationals, and to work together to provide resources to help the relevant authorities and actors in Syria and Iraq to address urgent humanitarian needs,” she said.


Stena Impero operator says tanker’s crew safe and well

Updated 21 min 14 sec ago
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Stena Impero operator says tanker’s crew safe and well

  • ‘... they’re all okay and in good health and they’re getting good cooperation with the Iranians on board the vessel’

STOCKHOLM: All 23 crew on a British-flagged tanker seized last week by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz are safe and well, the vessel’s Swedish operator Stena Bulk said on Wednesday after speaking to them.

Iran said on Saturday it had seized the Stena Impero because it had collided with a fishing boat. Stena Bulk has said it has received no evidence of such a collision.

“We had direct contact with the crew on board the vessel last night by telephone and they’re all okay and in good health and they’re getting good cooperation with the Iranians on board,” the firm’s spokesman Pat Adamson said.

Its CEO Erik Hanell said he hoped Tuesday’s contact was “a first sign that we will soon see more positive progress from the Iranian authorities.”

Britain described the seizure as piracy and called on Monday for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait, a strategic waterway for oil transportation.

Adamson said the next step for the operator would be to try and get somebody on board to check up on the crew, but that he had no timeline for when the crew might be repatriated.

“We haven’t had any direct response from the Iranian authorities about visiting the vessel as yet but we hope we will have that soon,” he said.

“All the appropriate governments and embassies are supporting and helping us.”