The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SDF-controlled areas | Efforts underway to establish tribunal of an international character for trying ISIS prisoners

In an exclusive interview with SOHR, the official spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Relations of the Autonomous Administration of northern and eastern Syria (AANES), Kamal Akef has disclosed further details on the efforts for establishing a tribunal of an international character in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration with the aim of trying ISIS terrorist prisoners. Mr. Kamal says, “after the defeat of the organisation on March 23, 2019, we filed an official request to establish a tribunal of an international character in areas controlled by the Autonomous Administration. We suggested that the tribunal should be established in Kobani city. We have an approach and a vision for the need to establish this tribunal, as we suffer greatly from the presence of thousands of terrorists who had committed crimes and have had convictions proving their implication into these crimes. We are sure that this will be a right step towards justice, and we welcome all efforts supporting this step.”


Responding to SOHR question about the availability of enough evidence regarding the crimes committed by ISIS, Mr. Kamal has said, “yes. We have evidence proving the implication of terrorists into crimes committed against the region’s residents. When we call for establishing a tribunal, then we depend on unrefuted evidence and facts which can help the tribunal to proceed with its executive measures.”


Clarifying the level of international support provided to establish this tribunal, Kamal Akef has said, “there will be a near international meeting for discussing this cause and the cause of refugee camps. The Autonomous Administration seek to make these meetings as the start point for highlighting the cause of ISIS in north and east Syria at an appropriate level matching the seriousness of this cause and its critical repercussions which may affect the entire world.”


Commenting on the intention to hold the “Islamic State” organisation accountable for the international crimes it committed, with the aim of delivering justice to many victims and survivors, especially since these efforts require financial and material support by the international community, Mr. Kamal confirms that the talks about trials concentrate about providing support and cooperation on the rule of law and in accordance with international conventions and charters, as well as logistical, security and technical support. “there is a general understanding about these approaches, and efforts are underway to start practical steps into these paths,” he adds.


Commenting on investigations in sexual and gender crimes committed by ISIS, Mr. Akef says, “there is no doubt that that tribunal will address all crimes committed by ISIS, including the crimes of kidnapping, killing, rape and genocide. He adds, “we talk about terrorist acts and practices which have violated all international laws, conventions and charters.”


It is worth noting that the “Islamic State” organisation have committed heinous crimes in Syria, Iraq, Europe and other countries, where these inhumane crimes left heavy human, economic and material losses. However, the issue of trying ISIS prisoners is still under negotiations, as there are no international courts specified to address and investigate these crimes and punish perpetrators.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has been all along appealing to find a lasting and workable solution for the cause of ISIS members and commanders and their families who are held in prisons and camps in Syrian territory, and to bring criminals to justice and repatriate the foreign ones, so that members and commanders are tried for their crimes, while women and children of families of ISIS members are rehabilitated in specialised centres in their homelands.


We, at SOHR, express our support to every initiative playing out in favour of defending human rights, and we also recommend establishment of international courts in Syria to ensure fair trials on order to avoid turning the prisons in north-east Syria region into detention centres more akin to “Guantanamo.”