Prosecutors in the EU are increasingly cumulating charges against returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), members of ISIS and its affiliates, with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, so-called core international crimes.
In over 20 cases in five Member States, judgments have been delivered or investigations and trials are ongoing where FTFs are charged not only with membership of a terrorist organisation but also with core international crimes, increasing the possibility of higher sentences and of getting justice done for victims.
This day is co-organised by the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, Eurojust and the Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (the Genocide Network).
Prosecutors in Germany, France, Hungary, Finland and the Netherlands have ongoing cases against FTFs or even judgments were delivered with cumulative charges. Many of these FTFs have links with Member States through nationality or residency, while others sought to enter EU territory as refugees or asylum seekers.
These cases demonstrate that ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and their affiliates are not only terrorist organisations but should also be considered as parties to a non-international armed conflict in Syria and Iraq. Its members are therefore culpable of committing war crimes, next to crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide. Suspects are often tried for their primary terrorism offences, but may also carry responsibilities for other crimes committed in third States.
These other offences may include war crimes of pillage, slavery, enlisting of child soldiers, murder as a crime against humanity or even the crime of genocide, but often stay unpunished. Additional possibilities to issue convictions lie in so-called ‘selfie’ or ‘posing’ cases: the use of photographs and videos posted on social media depicting the inhumane treatment of dead persons.
Eurojust and the Genocide Network advocate and support cumulative prosecutions that encompass the full criminal scope of individual perpetrators, enabling longer sentences. This is particularly important for victims of ISIS who have suffered great harm and seek justice. Additionally, prosecution of core international crimes is not subject to time limitations. This enables prosecutors to work on these cases for decades ahead.