None of the Daesh Brides Repatriated to Sweden Sentenced for War Crimes

© AP Photo / Maya AlleruzzoLaundry dries on a chain link fence in an area for foreign families, at Al-Hol camp in Hassakeh province, Syria.
Laundry dries on a chain link fence in an area for foreign families, at Al-Hol camp in Hassakeh province, Syria. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.05.2022
In the years since the rise and fall of the Daesh* “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, Sweden has been notoriously lax at holding returnee jihadists accountable for crimes committed in the Middle East. As charges are seldom pressed due to the heavy burden of proof, the authorities have instead relied on numerous “de-radicalisation” programmes.
So far, none of investigations against Swedish Daesh women repatriated from Kurdish-controlled detention camps in northern Syria has led prosecution after their return to the Scandinavian country.
Since September 2021, a total of twelve women with links to Daesh have been expelled by the Kurdish authorities in coordination with Sweden. The Kurds said they lacked have the resources to either care for thousands of foreign women and children linked to Daesh, or prosecute them for suspected crimes. The Kurdish authorities said that they had hoped that the women would face a proper trial in Sweden.
Upon arrival, eleven women were arrested and notified of suspicion of war crimes; their children were taken into care by social services. However, eight of the investigations have already been closed due to a lack of evidence. According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, the twelfth woman had no suspicions against her whatsoever, despite returning from a detention camp for people linked to Daesh. The three ongoing preliminary investigations concern women who came to Sweden quite recently, yet their investigations are likely to yield the same outcome.

District Attorney Hanna Lemoine, who has led three of the preliminary investigations, stressed that it is generally difficult to investigate this type of crime due to lack of access to the crime scene, witnesses or plaintiffs.
“After we interviewed the people involved, I have since made the assessment that it hasn't been possible to proceed with these investigations and I have then closed them," she told Swedish Radio.
According to her, though, international cooperation is underway to map out the crimes of Daesh.
“We know that evidence is still being collected and analysed, and it is something that can lead preliminary investigations further, or that in some cases, new suspicions may arise at some point against some person,” she said.
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At the height of Daesh's self-proclaimed “caliphate", some 300 Islamists left Sweden to join the jihadists' cause in the Middle East, making the Scandinavian nation of Europe's premier exporters of jihad per capita. While about half of them have already returned, Sweden has been notoriously lax at holding the returnees accountable for crimes committed. Charges are seldom pressed due to the heavy burden of proof. Instead, the authorities have relied on numerous “de-radicalisation” programmes with an emphasis on counselling and assistance.
The fate of so-called “Daesh brides” and their children born abroad remains a sensitive issue in many European nations. Given that a child who has a parent with Swedish citizenship automatically becomes a Swedish citizen as well, regardless of place of birth, Sweden has been active in retrieving them from camps in Syria. Most notably, in the spring of 2019, it took back all the seven children of notorious Daesh recruiter Michael Skråmo, which spurred a debate among both politicians and the general public, who have been wary of such a move.
A number of former Daesh brides even sued Sweden in the European Court of Justice for their “failure” to bring them “home”, which they consider a “serious violation” of their human rights. For failing to act quickly enough, Sweden even earned a reprimand from the United Nations, which cited the “inhumane” conditions in the internment camps in northern Syria.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/“Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other nations
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