Justice after ISIS

Syria Direct’s Tom Rollins talks to Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch

This article is included in the Spring 2019 issue of Syria Notes.

Following a territorial defeat of ISIS, the international Coalition and Kurdish-led forces in eastern Syria face myriad challenges in dealing with a post-ISIS transition—including what to do with thousands of foreign fighters in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) detention centres.

The international community is unprepared to handle these challenges, according to Nadim Houry, the director of Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism and Counter-terrorism Programme. In a recent Guardian article, Houry wrote that the ‘lack of preparation for what comes after ISIS is shocking.’

With the SDF and Kurdish-led Self-Administration authorities in eastern Syria either ill-equipped—or unwilling—to handle the volume of ISIS suspects, the fate of foreign fighters remains particularly unclear. Many are now in SDF-administered detention facilities or displacement camps. Both the UK and US have stripped several foreign fighters, and foreign women associated with ISIS, of their citizenship.

Some foreign fighters have been transferred to Iraq for prosecution. In recent weeks, up to fourteen French former ISIS fighters were reportedly transferred to Iraq. Transfers are being conducted with little to no transparency, human rights groups say. The Iraqi judiciary system has been the subject of torture allegations, insufficient evidentiary standards, and a lax definition of what constitutes terrorism as a crime.

Syria Direct’s Tom Rollins spoke with Nadim Houry. Read the full interview at Syria Direct.