Swiss jihadists should be brought to justice on “home soil”

Switzerland is missing a trick by refusing to reptatriate jihadists, says Del Ponte. © Keystone / Martial Trezzini

Swiss war crimes expert Carla Del Ponte has criticised Switzerland’s insistence that citizens who join Jihadist conflicts abroad should be tried in the country where they are detained. The former Swiss federal prosecutor says more could be gained from bringing them back to justice in Switzerland.

This content was published on October 26, 2019 - 12:29

Speaking to the Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper, the former Swiss public prosecutor also questions whether people can be guaranteed a fair trial in war-torn countries.

Earlier this year, the Swiss government rejected calls to actively repatriate Islamic militants with Swiss nationality from Syria or Iraq. “Switzerland could help set up a special international court and possibly support the law enforcement with suitable means,” the government said in March.

The stance has already been criticised by Ed McMullen, the US ambassador to Switzerland, who argues that such jihadists should be tried in their country of origin.

Del Ponte, who also served as a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry into War Crimes in Syria, says more intelligence could be gained from questioning culprits in Switzerland. “Only in this way can we learn from these cases,” she said.

She also questioned beliefs that international courts will be available to try such cases in conflict zones. "Which court? There is none, and if there is, then at most a Sharia court without constitutional guarantees,” De Ponte said.

In the newspaper interview, Del Ponte was also highly critical of Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria, labelling the episode a “disgrace”.

The Federal Intelligence Service believes that 93 jihadist “travelers” have left Switzerland for conflict areas since 2001, of whom 78 have gone to Syria and Iraq. Of these, 27 have been confirmed killed and 16 have returned to Switzerland.

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