ECPM constantly conducts various campaigns aimed at achieving the universal abolition of the death penalty. From support for the rights of LGBT+ people and others condemned to death around the world, to advocacy at the UN, our campaigns embody the diversity of our causes and means of action.

Jihadists in the East: the case of French citizens

facing the death penalty in Iraq

Illustration © Jeanne Hirschberger
Illustration © Jeanne Hirschberger

For several years, individuals from all over the world have joined the ranks of the Islamic state in the Levant region, particularly in Syria, in tens of thousands.

France is by far the European country with the most jihadists in the Levant, followed by others, such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain.

According to the French authorities, there are now 318 men, 200 women and more than 300 alleged minors living in Syria. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are about 490 French people still in Syria.

Since the end of 2017, ECPM has repeatedly denounced the risk of the death penalty for French jihadists in the Levant region and the lack of a clear position of the French authorities on the issue.

Thus, in early 2018, ECPM sent several advocacy letters and met with the French authorities with the main demand being to ask France to clearly and publicly express its opposition to the application of the death penalty in all circumstances and to implement its obligations under international law. From March 2018, ECPM issued several press releases and information notes reviewing the situation of the French in Iraq and the position of the French authorities[1], reversing the conviction of French and Germans who fought in Le Levant[2]. ECPM also made an oral statement at the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council following the report published by the Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights while countering terrorism[3]. Since the beginning of 2019, ECPM has issued two press releases, the first[4] reminding European states of their opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and the need to repatriate and try their jihadist nationals in Le Levant to their countries of origin; the second, dated 28 May[5], follows the death sentence imposed on French nationals by the Iraqi authorities.

In February 2019, thirteen people were transferred from Syria to Iraq. One of these persons was released without proceedings against him, another is a Tunisian national with a residence permit in France and eleven are French nationals. Today we return to the death sentences handed down by the Iraqi courts against the eleven jihadists[6].


10 questions to better understand the situation of the French citizens sentenced to death in Iraq

Photo © Christophe Meireis
Photo © Christophe Meireis


"Using the death penalty against terrorists is, for a democracy, making their values its own." 

Robert Badinter, lawyer and former Minister of Justice, Honorary President of ECPM

Jihadists in the Levant: the eye of the media

Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, ECPM and Véronique Roy, Collectif Familles Unies
Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, ECPM and Véronique Roy, Collectif Familles Unies

1] ECPM, "Raising French Nationals in the Levant: a complex situation... to a certain extent", 2 March 2018



2] ECPM, "Editorial: French and German sentenced to death in Le Levant: A death penalty by proxy! ", March 1, 2018



3] ECPM, "Intervention at the UN: Foreign jihadists arrested in Le Levant and facing the death penalty", 1 March 2018



4] ECPM, Press release, "Europeans sentenced to death in Le Levant", February 2018.



5] ECPM, Press release "Six French nationals sentenced to death in Iraq", May 2019



6] The Tunisian national was also sentenced to death by the Iraqi courts on 29 May 2019