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Jihadists in the Levant: 10 key points / 10 dates for a better understanding [Press release]

The press conference on the situation of French citizens sentenced to death in Iraq, organised on 4 July 2019 by ECPM and the Collectif Familles Unies, allowed civil society to provide essential clarifications on the issue of fair trials in Iraq and the death penalty for French jihadists.

It was also an opportunity for ECPM to present its press kit “10 questions to better understand the situation of French people sentenced to death in Iraq”.

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Consult our campaign on the page “Jihadists in the East”

Between May 26 and June 3, 11 French people were sentenced to death. These Frenchmen were part of a group of thirteen people transferred from Syria to Iraq by the Kurdish authorities. As a reminder, there have been more than 177 executions in Iraq in the last two years, making this country the 5th largest executing country in the world

Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently stated at the 41st session of the HRC in Geneva that family members of jihadists captured or killed in Syria and Iraq are “repatriated, unless they are prosecuted for crimes”. Ms. Bachelet noted that “some countries have made efforts to repatriate certain nationals, including children”, but did not mention these countries.

ECPM would like to recall several fundamentals:

– France, as it never fails to be reminded on the international scene and particularly at the UN, is against the death penalty in all circumstances.

– In July 1989, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that a member country cannot extradite a person to a state likely to impose the death penalty, since waiting on death row constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment. In the present case, the extradition of a prisoner to a country where he faced a death sentence was declared contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Soering v. United Kingdom case).

– In February 2007: Promulgation of the Constitutional Law on the Prohibition of the Death Penalty. The law includes a single article which adds, to Title VIII of the Constitution, an article 66-1 worded as follows: “Art. 66-1. – No one shall be sentenced to death. »

– On 10 October 2007, France ratified Protocol No. 13 to the ECHR of 3 May 2002 on the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances.

ECPM raises the question of Iraq’s universal jurisdiction to try extra-territorial crimes. Despite the statements of Minister Jean-Yves le Drian, who described the masquerade in Baghdad as fair, ECPM recalls that many diplomats, including France, have been denouncing the flagrant unfairness of fair trial rights for many years, particularly during Iraq’s 2014 UPR in Geneva.

ECPM recalls that many human rights NGOs denounce the situation of justice in Iraq before and since Daech, lawyers have repeatedly demonstrated the flagrant and manifest violations of the rights of the defence giving these trials a ubuesque character: expeditious procedures, no access to the file for lawyers or possibility of visiting the defendants, no right granted to the defence, trials expedited within fifteen minutes, proven cases of torture.

In this context, ECPM asks:

That the French can be tried in France in order to do justice to the victims, to the associations and to the French.
That French convicts, as well as their families in France, may benefit from all possible support
Transparency around the transfer of the French in February 2019 by the Kurdish forces, especially since the conditions for repatriation to French soil were met and almost underway.
Clarification of France’s role in the Kurdish decision to hand over French nationals to Iraqis facing the death penalty. If this were to be proven, it would be a serious breach of both French doctrine and commitments under European law
Further transfers are planned in the coming weeks. What is the situation?
ECPM concludes that there is a certain specificity, if not exception, in the treatment of its nationals sentenced to death in Iraq. ECPM recalls that France must assume its duties towards its fellow citizens who risk the death penalty in unfair trials. On the strength of its democratic tradition and universal values, France must not bow to the emotions of public opinion in order to uphold its principles of fundamental rights and perpetuate democracy in our country.

Press contacts:

Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, General Manager, ECPM – 01 80 87 70 53 –

Julia Bourbon-Fernandez, Middle East and North Africa Coordinator – 01 80 87 70 22 –