France, Iraq to discuss framework for putting militants on trial

A volunteer attending an orphaned child reportedly linked with Daesh fighters in Syrian Ain Issa town. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

France, Iraq to discuss framework for putting militants on trial

  • The FM didn’t specify when he would visit Baghdad
  • Eight French citizens were sentenced to death in Iraq but none of the executions were carried out

PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday said he would discuss a judicial framework for putting militants on trial during an upcoming visit to Iraq, as calls grow for an international court to judge the extremists.
“We need to work things out with the Iraqi authorities so that we can find a way to have a judicial mechanism that is able to judge all these fighters, including obviously the French fighters,” he told BFM-TV, without specifying when he would go to Baghdad.
Seven European countries — France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark — have during the last months been discussing setting up an international court in Iraq for putting foreign Daesh militants on trial.
Officials from all seven countries took part in a technical mission to Baghdad to assess the situation.
In a joint statement they said they had learned from the Iraqi authorities about “the daunting task they are facing in bringing Daesh to justice and rebuilding the society.”
A major issue will be Iraq’s use of the death penalty, which is outlawed throughout the EU.
Hundreds of foreigners have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in Iraq for belonging to the Daesh group.
A dozen French militants held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria were already handed over to the Iraqi authorities at the end of the January to be put on trial although Le Drian said further transfers were not planned at the moment.
Eight French citizens have been sentenced to death in Iraq but none of the executions have been carried out.
The technical mission said it had reiterated its opposition to the death penalty “in all places and in all circumstances” to the Iraqi authorities.
There have been concerns that the controversial Turkish offensive in northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces could lead to a mass prison outbreak of militants captured by the Kurds.
But Le Drian said the security of Kurdish-run prisons holding suspected militia in northern Syria was “currently” not threatened by the Turkish military operation.
“To my knowledge, the Turkish offensive and the positioning of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) have so far not led to the safety and security of these camps... currently being threatened,” he said.
Turkey on Monday accused Kurdish forces of deliberately releasing Daesh prisoners held at a prison in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad “in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area.”
Kurdish officials, for their part, claimed that Turkish bombardments had allowed nearly 800 relatives of foreign Daesh fighters escape from a camp for the displaced.


Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

Updated 16 min 39 sec ago

Israeli PM: Palestinians in Jordan Valley won’t be citizens

  • Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley will remain in what he described as an “enclave” after Israel annexes the territory and will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with plans to annex the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in line with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, a process that could begin as early as July 1.
The annexation of the Jordan Valley and the far-flung settlements would make it virtually impossible to create a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel, which is still widely seen as the only way to resolve the decades-old conflict.
In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, Netanyahu said Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, including residents of the city of Jericho, would remain under limited Palestinian self-rule, with Israel having overall security control.
“They will remain a Palestinian enclave,” he said. “You’re not annexing Jericho. There’s a cluster or two. You don’t need to apply sovereignty over them. They will remain Palestinian subjects, if you will. But security control also applies to these places.”
Palestinians in the West Bank have lived under Israeli military rule since the 1967 war, when Israel captured the territory, along with east Jerusalem and Gaza. The Palestinians want all three territories to form their future state.
The Trump plan would grant the Palestinians limited statehood over scattered enclaves surrounded by Israel if they meet a long list of conditions. Israel has embraced the plan, while the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, has angrily rejected it and cut ties with the US and Israel.
Netanyahu said that if the Palestinians accept all the conditions in the plan, including Israel maintaining overall security control, “then they will have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
Under a coalition agreement reached last month, Netanyahu can bring his annexation plans before the government as early as July 1.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is no longer bound by any agreements signed with Israel and the US, and says it has cut off security coordination with Israel. Neighboring Jordan, a close Western ally and one of only two Arab states to have made peace with Israel, has warned of a “massive conflict” if Israel proceeds with annexation.