Court in North and East Syria will try foreign ISIS members within next three months

NORTH AND EAST SYRIA – Trials for the hundreds of foreign Islamic State detainees still held in camps by the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (DAA) are set to get underway withing the next three months, according to officials. The People’s Defense Court, which was established in the beginning of 2014, is specialized in sentencing those who have committed war crimes against the people of North and East Syria. The Court has adjudicated over 8,000 cases of Syrian nationals through its three branches in Jazira, Euphrates, and Afrin Regions.

The Public Prosecution Office in North and East Syria receives reports about the terrorists from the Internal Security Forces. Their sentences are decided according to their statements and confessions, in addition to collected evidence. The cases are then transferred to the Court. After the verdict is issued, there is the opportunity to appeal the verdict through the Court of Appeals, located in the city of Qamishli.

So far, those who have been convicted in the People’s Defense Court were members of various terrorist organizations such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. Most of the charges brought against defendants in the People’s Defense Court are ‘membership in a terrorist organization’, ‘carrying out bombings’, and ‘killing civilians’.

The Turkish invasion of North and East Syria in October 2019 has negatively affected the task of the Public Prosecution Office and the People’s Defense Court in conducting investigations inside prisons and the transferring of the accused between prisons. The Turkish invasion has also forced a stop to the judicial work.

Due to the lack of response to the DAA’s call for an international criminal tribunal to handle the cases of non-Syrian Islamic State detainees, trials are set to begin through the People’s Defense Court within three months.