Prosecutor wants to bring 29 suspected jihadists back to NL for trial


The Public Prosecutor submitted a list of 29 suspected Dutch jihadists that it wants to bring back from Syria to the Netherlands to face justice, the Ministry of Justice and Security confirmed to NRC. That is a significant increase from the 10 requests submitted earlier this year.

The 10 requests submitter earlier this year involved only women. The current list also includes men. The people on these list are all suspected of terrorism and are on international wanted lists. They are currently staying in camps or prisons in Northern Syria and have notified the Public Prosecutor that they want to be present at their trial, NRC reports. A total of around 50 Dutch adults and 90 children are currently living in these camps, according to figures from intelligence service AIVD.

"Our policy is that we want to prosecute everyone here", a spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service said to the newspaper. "That can only happen when people are within the reach of the Dutch judiciary and that is only when they are out of those camps. That is why we have submitted this request to the Ministry."

The spokesperson would not comment on whether the Ministry has done enough with the requests. "The requests are still lying there. That's the only thing I can say about it."

That is likely because the government is dead-set against bringing suspected Dutch jihadists and their children back to the Netherlands, despite multiple calls from the Children's Ombudsman and the UN to bring the children back at least. The government prefers to revoke Dutch jihadists' Dutch nationality, so that they can be tried elsewhere, the newspaper writes.

In September, Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said in a letter to parliament that the area is too unsafe for Dutch officials who need to help with the repatriation. According to NRC, the United States, which is pushing EU countries to take their citizens back and prosecute them, offered multiple times to assist the Netherlands with this.

Last week the VVD reprimanded parliamentarian Dilan Yesilgoz for saying that she is willing to discuss bringing Dutch children back from Syria. The VVD's stance is a firm 'no'. The other coalition parties are also divided on the issue. The D66 thinks the government is taking a security risk by leaving jihadists in the region, because they may disappear from the radar in the current confusion caused by Turkey's offensive on the region. The CDA and ChristenUnie want to only talk about bringing back children.

But ChristenUnie parliamentarian Joel Voordewind told NRC that the main thing he wants is action from the government. "Just saying 'no' is no longer enough: a new situation requires new answers."