No negotiations with IS fighters wanting to return home

Belgium won't be negotiating with IS fighters eager to return to Belgium. In recent days the Belgian prime minister could not have been clearer. The Belgian stand has now also been reiterated and clarified by home minister Jambon.

The issue concentrated minds after war correspondent Rudi Vranckx of this parish spoke with IS fighter Tarik Jadaoun, who is being held in Iraq. Mr Jambon says it's common sense not to negotiate with people who used violence to attack the fundamental values of our society with a view to reintegrating them into society, even if they are in trouble now: "We will respect international law, but not negotiate."

The fact that some IS fighters may face the death penalty does not sway Mr Jambon: "These guys placed themselves beyond the pale. They took life choices and these have consequences."

Quizzed about whether we would not lose out on important information if we didn’t allow the fighters to return to Belgium Mr Jambon insisted: "To gain information, it's not necessary to bring somebody to Belgium. We can dispatch an examining magistrate and let him or her question suspects. The secret service must evaluate this. It's unclear whether they really have information or wish to make themselves interesting."

"The case of women and children who wish to return, will be looked at case by case. A woman who accompanied her husband need not necessarily be involved in terrorism. Women and children have been returned; so it's quite possible."