United States Transfer ISIS Detainees from Nothern Syria to Iraq

Last updated on November 11th, 2018

According to Human Rights Watch, foreigners that have been suspected to have ties with the Islamic State (ISIS) have been transferred from the northern parts of Syria to Iraq by the United States. This action has been carried out while disregarding the associated risks such as unfair trials or torture as is a usual occurrence in Iraq.

Human Rights Watch have gotten information from an independent source that monitor events on the Iraqi Syrian border that for sure “many” suspected ISIS suspects have been transferred from Syria to Iraq by the US. In atleast five cases, US forces  have handed foreign suspects over to the Counter Terrorism Service of Iraq (CTS) Human  Rights Watch have reasons to believe. The Counter Terrorism Service was established in the year 2003 by the US in Iraq and is still closely tied to the US.

It has been observed by independent sources that in four different prosecution cases, the suspects that have undergone trial due to their alleged link to ISIS have faced violations of Human Rights through actions such as torture. These defendants who hail from different countries such as Australia, France and Lebanon were reportedly captured in Syria and then transferred to Iraq where there due process was not followed in their prosecution. It has also been reported on the transfer of a Palestinian detainee from Syria to Iraq but it has not been ascertained if he has been prosecuted by Human Rights Watch.

Nadim Houry, the terrorism/counter terrorism director at Human Rights Watch acknowledges that while it is important for the victims of ISIS to get justice through trials and prosecution of suspects, transfer of these suspects to places where they may face abuses. According to him if there will be a risk of torture or other Human Rights violations in Iraq or any other place, then the US should not transfer detainees from northern Syria there.

The transfer of detainees to countries where some form of mistreatment might occur is not allowed by the International Human Rights and Humanitarian law. As such, detainees have a right to contest when they are to be transferred according to Human Rights Watch. The US therefore should not be carrying out transfers of suspected ISIS members from Syria to Iraq if they are at risk of torture.

Human Rights Watch have sent a letter to the United States government since the 10th of September 2018, to receive a clarification on their policy regarding transfer of detainees being held in northern Syria inclusive of those transferred to Iraq but no response have been gotten yet.

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