Turkish criminal justice system is failing in cracking down on ISIS

Nordic Monitor


The Turkish criminal justice system has to a large degree failed to successfully prosecute and convict members of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), suggesting a lackluster performance on the part of Turkish authorities in cracking down on the terrorist network.

According to the latest figures, only 95 Turks have thus far been convicted on ISIS charges despite the fact that thousands have been detained in nationwide sweeps every year, suggesting that most were quickly released and charges dropped after brief detentions.

From January to November of this year alone, 2,782 suspected members of ISIS were detained by authorities, but only 843 were arrested and put in pretrial detention. Most are expected to be freed and the charges dropped, resulting in a dismal conviction rate.

In fact, according to Justice Ministry data, only 422 Turks are currently imprisoned in Turkey on ISIS charges. Of these, 95 were convicted, and their convictions were successfully upheld on appeal. One hundred thirty-eight suspects who were sentenced by courts of first instance are still awaiting the outcome of their appeals. The trials of 138 ISIS suspects are still ongoing.

A secret Turkish military intelligence document previously published by Nordic Monitor showed 4,000 ISIS jihadists to be active militants in 69 Salafist/takfiri groups in Turkey and that 4,671 Turkish jihadists had gone to Syria as of July 2016.

Of the total 1,172 ISIS militants who are currently imprisoned in Turkey, 750 are listed as foreigners from some 40 countries. Most claim Syrian and Iraqi citizenship, while the rest are from such countries as the US, the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Russia, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan. Twenty-two are women. A total of 231 foreign ISIS fighters were convicted, and the verdict was upheld on appeal. The cases of 470 foreign fighters are still before appeals courts.

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