Denmark looks to charge jihadists with treason, while in Austria internment is suggested
From the Danish edition of The Local
In a move cheered by opposition groups, the justice minister says she wants to pave a legal path for prosecuting foreign fighters as traitors, but a leading attorney has his doubts that the legislation will work. That a member of the Government has the political will to deal robustly with traitors is, of itself, cause for hope. Oh that someone in the British establishment was so loyal.
“If one travels from Denmark and joins the Islamic State and fights against Danish soldiers, then I think that you have committed treason. I want to ensure that the legality is in order, but that is my clear political signal,” Frederiksen told broadcaster DR.
Frederiksen has now asked the ministry’s criminal law committee to determine whether, and how, foreign fighters can be charged with treason. Frederiksen said she expects the committee to give its recommendations before the summer.
Opposition parties cheered Frederiksen’s move.
“It is essential that people who go down there to fight against Danish soldiers and Danish values be held responsible for their actions,” Danish People’s Party spokesman Kristian Thulesen Dahl told DR.
But a leading lawyer with a national legal policy association said that the burden of proof would be almost insurmountable, making the proposed legal manoeuvre an empty gesture. “One must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that what they [Syria fighters, ed.] are charged with is correct. Otherwise, they need to be acquitted. And I think that’s where the problem lies. There will be a lack of proof. And that’s something that can’t be changed just by making a new regulation,” Bjørn Elmquist, the chairman of Retspolitisk Forening, told DR.
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) estimates that over 100 people have left Denmark to fight in Syria and that at least 50 of those fighters have since returned.
Frederiksen’s change in course comes after she met with European counterparts in Paris following last week’s terror attacks.
Meanwhile in Austria
Austria’s right-wing Freedom Party (FPÖ) has said that anybody who returns to Austria after suspected involvement with the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist militia should be “interned” and have their citizenship revoked. FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache and general secretary Herbert Kickl made the comments on Tuesday – with Kickl adding that suspects would have to prove themselves that they had not been fighting with Isis if they wanted to avoid being interned.
There has been much discussion in Austria on boosting security in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris last week by Islamist gunmen.
Strache said that more than 60 suspected jihadists have already returned from Austria after fighting in Iraq and Syria and that they are “ticking time bombs”. Kickl added that internment would protect the public and said that these “special times and challenges call for special measures”.
They both called for Austrian citizenship to be taken away from anybody who was recruited by Isis, and that the “mercenary clause” in Austria’s citizenship act should also apply to jihadist fighters. It allows Austria to revoke citizenship from anyone who joins the military of a foreign state.