In 2016, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Resolution 2091 (2016) on “Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq” and recognised the atrocities committed by Daesh fighters as genocide and other serious crimes and, in 2017, Resolution 2190 (2017) on “Prosecuting and punishing the crimes against humanity or even possible genocide committed by Daesh”. Nonetheless, only a few prosecutions of Daesh fighters for terror-related offences have been conducted and none for the crime of genocide.
As, in March 2019, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that Daesh has been defeated, there is a growing concern that many of the Daesh foreign fighters, detained or still at large, and their families will wish to return to their home countries. There is a risk that, upon their return, they may constitute a security risk in these countries. It is therefore crucial to examine how States should deal with the issue.
This issue is of particular concern as more than 5 000 Daesh foreign fighters reportedly originate from Europe (with approximately 3 700 from the United Kingdom, Belgium, France and Germany alone). Over half of the Daesh foreign fighters have already returned.
The response to returning Daesh foreign fighters must be considered a priority as part of individual States' counter-terrorism strategy. It should include effective investigations and prosecutions for their involvement and complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, or lower offences. This includes the need of establishing and providing support to an international criminal tribunal.
Concerned by the lack of prosecution and the lack of support for victims, the Assembly should urgently propose to set up an international tribunal and to prosecute Daesh fighters in every member State.