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LONDON: “Insecure” detention centers holding tens of thousands of Daesh members in northern Syria have created a “mini-caliphate” that poses a “growing security threat” to the region and Western nations, a new report has warned.
Researchers at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London said the international community needed to find a way to resolve the situation, suggesting creating a “hybrid court,” similar to systems set up in Kosovo, Cambodia and East Timor.
“The current international response is one of containment, but this is not sustainable,” wrote Sabin Khan and Imogen Parsons, authors of the RUSI report. “As well as denying justice to those who have suffered abuses, there is a growing security threat.”
The report added that local authorities could not hold detainees “indefinitely,” saying that the international community, through the UN or Global Counterterrorism Forum, needed to prioritize trying and imprisoning those accused of human rights violations, removing those convicted from Syria to their countries of origin, and repatriating children and the vulnerable.
Failure to do so, it added, would have “far-reaching and generational” security and political consequences.
There are thought to be around 70,000 people, including Daesh fighters, women and 27,500 foreign children, currently being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces at camps in Syria, with detainees originating from at least 60 different countries.
They include 1,000 people from the UK and EU, with many Western states refusing to repatriate their citizens, including London-born Shamima Begum, who had her citizenship stripped by the British government in 2019.
The report has gained the backing of significant counterterrorism figures in the UK. Sir Mark Rowley, former Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, told the Times that the current situation in Syria posed a “dangerous long-term threat,” adding: “The deceased victims and widely scattered survivors are surely entitled to this resolution.”
Suzanne Raine, the former head of the UK’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, added that it was important to be seen to impose justice on members of Daesh. She told the Guardian: “A stalemate which includes impunity for perpetrators should be unacceptable.”
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