Crime & Justice

Iraq repatriates 473 children of foreign ISIS fighters

By Khalid al-Taie


A picture taken on April 29th, 2018 in Baghdad's Central Criminal Court shows Russian women who have been sentenced to life in prison on grounds of joining ISIS standing with children in a hallway. [Ammar Karim/AFP]

Hundreds of children of foreign "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) fighters have been repatriated to their parents' countries of origin, Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Monday (July 15th).

Iraqi authorities since late 2017 have repatriated a total of 473 foreign children following government and diplomatic efforts.

The children are nationals of 10 countries: Russia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Germany, France, Georgia, Belarus, Finland, Ukraine and Turkey, according to the ministry.

Iraq has made "great efforts with regard to this complex matter", parliamentary human rights committee deputy chairman MP Qusay Abbas told Diyaruna Wednesday.

The ministries of Justice and Labour and Social Affairs, the Supreme Judicial Council and security services have provided medical, humanitarian and legal services to the children, he said, adding that they were treated "according to human rights principles".

Concurrently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted talks with foreign states that facilitated the repatriation of these children, he said.

Some countries 'unwilling' to receive ISIS children

"Some countries had previously submitted requests to Iraq to repatriate their underage nationals," he said, adding that the Iraqi government responded to these requests and handed over the children in batches to their countries.

But there are other countries that remain "unwilling to receive" children whose ISIS mothers have been sentenced by Iraqi courts, or the minors who have completed their sentences in correctional centres, he said.

On July 10th, Iraq handed over to Russia 33 children of Russian women accused of belonging to ISIS.

"The handover occurred in co-ordination with the Russian embassy in Baghdad," said Abbas.

There are no official figures for the total number of foreign children remaining in Iraqi custody.

These children fall under three categories: the underage children of foreign ISIS parents who were killed during Iraq's war against the group; minors who are in the custody of their foreign ISIS mothers, some of whom have been tried, while others are still undergoing investigation and trial.

The third group includes foreign minors, 108 of whom have been indicted in late 2018 on charges of joining ISIS.

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