World, Middle East

UN urges access to Daesh militants held in SDF custody

Incommunicado detention, commission writes, 'risks creating an environment where torture and ill-treatment are perpetrated'

Michael Hernandez,Betül Yürük   | 09.05.2019
UN urges access to Daesh militants held in SDF custody


A UN commission urged the U.S.-backed SDF on Thursday to grant humanitarian organizations and rights monitors access to the "several thousand" imprisoned Daesh militants in its custody.

"Incommunicado detention risks creating an environment where torture and ill-treatment are perpetrated with impunity," the UN's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic said in a statement.

Hundreds of foreign fighters from roughly 50 countries are among Daesh militants who are being held incommunicado in SDF camps, according to the commission.

The SDF is controlled by the YPG, the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, a designated terrorist organization in Turkey, the EU and the U.S.

The commission said while it has regularly reported on a gamut of rights violations perpetrated by Daesh, a UN-designated terrorist group, "holding suspects who may have been involved in such crimes in prolonged legal limbo, and incommunicado without access to legal counsel, risks undermining their successful prosecutions in the future."

"Additionally, preventing them from returning to their countries of origin obstructs the obligations of those states to investigate and prosecute such crimes, and undermines the right to truth for the victims and their families," it added.

The commission further pointed to the tens of thousands of civilians who were displaced during the final drive to rid Daesh of its final territorial holdings, saying civilians are "languishing" in makeshift camps that lack adequate housing and supplies.

Those being held in the camps are enduring "appalling and inhumane conditions," which the commission said has led to "preventable deaths," including those of up to 240 children.

"This untenable situation appears to be the result of a lack of preparedness by SDF and its international coalition partners for the scores of IDPs that have emerged from ISIL controlled areas in eastern Syria," it said, referring to internally-displaced persons and using another name for Daesh.

*Betul Yuruk contributed to this story from the United Nations

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