French MP Slams Paris’s Leniency on Homegrown Jihadists Tried Overseas
REUTERS/ Alaa Al-MarjaniEurope22:00 30.01.2018(updated 22:14 30.01.2018) Get short URL
French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet’s recent remarks that Paris would intervene if a Syrian or Iraqi court were to sentence a French citizen accused of war crimes or terrorism to death have caused an uproar. Speaking to Sputnik, veteran French lawmaker Gerard Bapt said that Paris has put itself in an awkward situation of its own making.
Speaking to Sputnik France about the implications of the minister’s comments, which referred to a need to negotiate on a “case-by-case basis” to prevent militants accused of horrific crimes in their service to Daesh (ISIS) from being given the death sentence by Syrian or Iraqi courts, Bapt, the 71-year-old National Assembly member for the Socialist Party, said that the minister’s position was untenable.
Even more significantly, the politician said, by denying the legitimacy of the Iraqi and Syrian justice systems, Paris takes upon itself the responsibility of trying its radicalized citizens in France proper, something which may prove extremely difficult and dangerous to pursue.
“The French state has indeed put itself in an awkward position, since crimes committed in another country can certainly be considered by the courts of that country, if a system of justice within the framework of national legislation exists, something undoubtedly present in Iraq,” Bapt noted.
The situation is more complicated in Syria, according to the lawmaker, including in the areas administered by the Kurds. “Here we’re talking about a state where the justice system is only being formed, and does not always comply with international norms,” the politician said.
In any case, the veteran politician stressed that “the state in which [these jihadists] perpetrated their crimes is certainly entitled to try them in accordance with its own jurisdiction.”
In addition to the international legal implications of Belloubet’s proposal, there are dangerous local consequences as well, Bapt noted. This includes issues such as the gathering of evidence or the questioning of witnesses. Then there’s the issue of the already difficult situation of the radicalization in French prisons, which would only be aggravated if hundreds of jihadists accused of the most heinous crimes were to join its ranks.
“Appealing to [the Syrians and Iraqis] in order to prevent the death penalty from being carried out? This will mean that one must be prepared for their extradition and imprisonment in France…with all the problems this will pose, I think this is a very difficult prospect,” the lawmaker stressed.
Observers point out that the French justice minister’s comments mark a stark contrast to the position of some members of her own government. In October, Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly said that if jihadists were to “die in the fighting, then I’d say it’s for the best.” Earlier this month, French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said that a 33-year-old jihadist recruiter from Brittany captured by Kurdish forces should be ‘tried in Syria’, rather than repatriated to France.
French prosecutors estimate that some 676 radicalized French citizens, including 295 women, remain in Iraq and Syria.