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.

Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

Updated 27 min 23 sec ago

Bangladeshi migrants to be repatriated from Libya

DHAKA: One hundred and seventy-one Bangladeshi migrants are waiting to be repatriated from two detention centers in Libya after being rescued from the Mediterranean coast on Oct. 30 as they tried to make their way into Europe, officials told Arab News on Wednesday. 

In all, 200 migrants were rescued during the operation.

“The registration process of all the Bangladeshi migrants has been completed and we are expecting to start the repatriation by the end of November,” ASM Ashraful Islam, councilor at the Bangladesh embassy in Libya, said.

He added that, due to the ongoing war in Libya, airports in Tripoli remain non-operational. The Bangladeshi migrants will fly from Misrata airport, 300 kilometers away.

“There are frequent incidents of bombardment and long-range missile strikes (at Tripoli airport),” Islam explained. He said no international airline was currently willing to fly from Libya to Bangladesh, so the embassy intends to charter a flight to repatriate the migrants.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will bear the expenses for the rescued Bangladeshis, who are currently being held at detention centers in Zanzur and Abu Salim, he said, adding, “Bangladesh mission staffers in Tripoli are in constant touch with the returnees and providing necessary food and other assistance for them.”

In recent years, human traffickers have used Libya as a gateway through which to send illegal migrants to Italy and other European countries. According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency — Frontex — around 30,000 Bangladeshi migrants have been arrested while trying to enter Europe in the last decade. The organization said that, in recent years, Bangladesh is one of the countries from which the most illegal migrants have tried to enter Europe. The IOM has facilitated the repatriation of Bangladeshi citizens from Libya in the past — 924 in 2017, 307 in 2016, and 521 in 2015.

“Among unemployed Bangladeshi fortune seekers, there is a (desire) to migrate to Europe by any means, and human-trafficking syndicates at home and abroad (have grabbed) this opportunity,” Shariful Hasan, head of the migration program at the Bangladesh-based development organization BRAC, told Arab News. “There needs to be an integrated effort by all concerned countries, with the support of Interpol, to curb this human trafficking.”