Repatriating Daesh members from Syria to their home countries continues to trouble European nations as governments remain apprehensive in transferring these captives due to security concerns.
The latest statement on the issue came from Danish Justice Minister Soeren Pape Poulsen who said on Wednesday that he wished that Danish citizens who joined Daesh had died while fighting in Syria rather than return to their hometowns; an announcement that drew criticism from opposition parties.
With the fall of Daesh's last bastion in Syria over the weekend, European governments have been grappling with the problem of what to do with captured militants from their countries.
As one of these states, Denmark's official policy to take back foreign militants has generated public debate. "It's better that they are jailed here (rather than) traveling freely," Pape Poulsen told a parliamentary committee, local papers reported.
But, he added, it would have been preferable "if they had fallen in combat over there." The opposition Social Democrats criticized Poulsen's remarks.
"These are not words that I would have used," Trine Bramsen, a spokeswoman for the party, said. According to Danish authorities, since 2012 about 150 people from Denmark have traveled to Syria or Iraq to join extremist groups.
"But this is a complex problem. There are no perfect or simple solutions. The fact is that we cannot refuse Danish citizens from coming back to Denmark," Poulsen added.
Since 2016, it has been a criminal offense in Danish law to fight in conflict zones for a terrorist group. The courts have already convicted 13 people for having joined or tried to join a terrorist organization Poulsen told the committee. Nine of those convicted were stripped of their Danish nationality and expelled from the country. The others could not be stripped of their citizenship, as they did not hold dual nationality.
In February, U.S. President Donald Trump urged European countries to take back over 800 Daesh fighters using threatening rhetoric.
"The U.S. is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 [Daesh] fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them," he tweeted. The demand, however, was being approached cautiously by Europe as most of the states refused to positively answer the U.S. president's demand and suggested that the militants be tried in Syria where the crimes had been committed.
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