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.


Iran counts votes in election stacked in favour of hardliners

Updated 21 min 55 sec ago

Iran counts votes in election stacked in favour of hardliners

  • Some early results announced by the Interior Ministry indicated that the hardline loyalists to Khamenei were gaining a majority in the 290-seat parliament

DUBAI: Iran has started counting votes in its parliamentary election, state TV said on Saturday, in which hardline allies of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are likely to gain a seizable majority based on preliminary results.
Iranian authorities have yet to announce the turnout in Feb. 21 election for the 290-seat parliament - a litmus test of the popularity of hardliners.
Some early results announced by the Interior Ministry indicated that the hardline loyalists to Khamenei were gaining a majority in the 290-seat parliament.
"So far, 42 seats of the parliament had been won outright by candidates," state TV said. According to a Reuters tally of those results, over 80 percent of them are loyalists to Khamenei.
Iran's rulers, under intense US pressure over the country's nuclear programme, need a high turnout to boost their legitimacy that was damaged after nationwide protests in November. The demonstrations were met with a violent crackdown that deepened resentment over economic hardship and corruption.
The spokesman for the watchdog Guardian Council Abbasali Kadkhodai predicted that the turnout will be around 50 percent, telling state television on Friday that the Iranian nation had disappointed its enemies by voting in large numbers.
Turnout was 62 percent in the 2016 parliamentary vote and 66 percent of people voted in 2012.
With Iran facing growing isolation on the global stage and discontent at home over the economy, the turnout is seen as a referendum on the establishment's handling of the Islamic Republic’s political and economic crises.
The United States' 2018 withdrawal from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, and its reimposition of sanctions, have hit Iran's economy hard as Iranians call on their leaders to create jobs and create stability.
The vote will have no major influence on foreign affairs or Iran's nuclear policy, which are determined by Khamenei. But it might bolster hardliners in the 2021 contest for president and toughen Tehran's foreign policy. The hardline Guardian Council, which must approve candidates, removed thousands of moderates and leading conservatives from the race by barring about 6,850 of hopefuls from in favour of hardliners from among 14,000 applicants. 

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