While the Federal Council has decided not to repatriate jihadists with Swiss nationality, the US ambassador to Switzerland disagrees, arguing these people should be tried in their countries of origin.
Ed McMullenexternal link said he didn’t want to interfere in Swiss affairs but said Switzerland should follow the lead of the United States and repatriate its own citizens who are members of terrorist groups captured in the Iraq-Syria region by Kurdish forces.
“We’re going to repatriate our citizens and pursue them. We hope most other countries will do the same,” he told Swiss public radio, RTSexternal link, on Monday. “Whoever’s fought with Islamic State and is going to be repatriated must be charged with all possible legal means. And the country of origin is the most appropriate place to judge their crimes.”
US President Donald Trump announced in December he was pulling troops out of Syria and has regularly called on European countries to pick up their citizens.
International legal standards
Last month, the Swiss government rejected calls to actively repatriate Islamic militants with Swiss nationality from Syria or Iraq. Swiss citizens would not be prevented from returning to the country, the government said, but authorities wanted the jihadists to be tried under international legal standards in the country where they committed their crimes.
There are currently about 20 suspected jihadists – men, women and minors – with Swiss passports, some of them in custody of non-state powers in Syria and Iraq.
In February, Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told RTS that she preferred the Swiss jihadists be tried “on the spot” for security reasons.
Latest figures by the Federal Intelligence Service show that 93 jihadist “travellers” 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.