AP2013

"New international court to try European IS fighters"

Belgian jihadi fighters who joined IS and are now in captivity should be housed in a new transit centre and be brought to trial, possibly before a new international court.  That is the opinion of Jan Wouters, professor of international law at Leuven University.

At the weekend US president Trump urged the Europeans to put grease to their elbow when it comes to repatriating and trying "their" IS fighters.  Some 800 are in captivity and risk being freed because nobody wants to deal with them.

Prof Jan Wouters: "There should be a transit centre, no second Guantanamo Bay!  That's something completely different.  In Europe we have never been a fan of Guantanamo.  It would be strange if we would now think this was a fantastic solution."

Since 2002 the Americans have been holding suspected terrorists without bringing them to justice at Guantanamo.  Prof Wouters favours a screening in the new transit centre to determine each fighter's nationality.  A first investigation would then be held and evidence collected.  How this should happen needs to be agreed internationally.

Jihadi fighters returned to their country of origin must then be taken to court. Prof Wouters believes the International Criminal Court in The Hague cannot be used because it's not qualified to try terrorist acts.  He also fears the ICC would not be able to deliver swift justice. Prof Wouters favours national courts or a newly established international tribunal.

"If we are talking about a co-ordinated approach, then it's not a bad idea to set up a mechanism that supersedes the nation states."

There is talk of between 4 and 6 Belgian men, 16 women and 31 children.  Prof Wouters doesn't believe revoking Belgian nationality is a good idea.

"Holding a nationality is a human right.  If you withdraw it you're in trouble with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg even if they are dual nationals.  It's not by taking somebody's nationality away that you remove the security risk and can guarantee that somebody will never set foot on Belgian soil again."

Prof Wouters also argues it's not a solution expecting other countries to sort your problems.