After the collapse of the last territorial stronghold of ISIS in northern Syria and the capture of large numbers of its members, camps and prisons in northeast Syria have exceeded capacity. Consequently, the detainment of former fighters and their associates has become an urgent issue. The Iraqi government, which has already tried ISIS fighters captured in its territory, has received some prisoners from Syria and has participated in discussions regarding further prisoners being transferred into their custody. However, multiple human rights organizations, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), have expressed concern over severe flaws in the Iraqi judicial system. Their numerous criticisms include Iraq’s law enforcement and the forced disappearances of suspected ISIS members, practicing the death penalty, unlawful detention, the government’s failure to ensure due process and fair trials, the use of torture to extract confessions, the lack of legislation specifying punishments for particular crimes, mistreatment of suspected ISIS members by security forces, and the frequency with which capital punishment is handed down following rushed trials.
Such widespread deficits within the Iraqi judicial system are considered to not only be in violation of international standards for human rights, but also violations of Iraq’s own constitution, which has existed in its current form since 2005. As a result, United Nations and other international organizations have warned against sending ISIS detainees held in northeast Syria to Iraqi prisons, citing the numerous flaws and systemic failure with respect to human rights. This paper will examine these concerns as part of a human rights review of the deficits within Iraq’s judiciary as relevant to the case of foreign fighters.
The full version of the paper: Policy Paper on Iraq pdf