The World Doesn't Know What To Do With Detained ISIS Fighters

Seven French citizens have now been condemned to death by hanging in Iraq for being ISIS members -- but the world doesn't really know how else to deal with these detained terrorist suspects.

The seven men went to trial this week and received the same sentence: death by hanging.

They were part of a group of 280 ISIS fighters, both foreign and Iraqi, who were captured by Syrian forces and handed to the Iraqi government in February.

France has asserted its opposition to the Iraqi courts' decision, but has thus far refused to allow any ISIS fighters or their wives to return to their country.

Suspected ISIS fighters being detained by Syrian Democratic Forces. Source: Getty images.

French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian,said it was ultimately up to Iraqi courts to deal with the men.

"I myself have said it to the Iraqi President... We're against the death penalty everywhere," he said.

"We're stepping up our efforts to prevent the death penalty against those... French people."

Iraq is one of 58 countries in the world which has retained the death penalty as a form of judicial punishment, and it has executed convicted terrorists en masse in the past.

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In 2014, dozens were hanged for their alleged involvement in the ISIS-led murders of 1,700 cadets at a military camp.

Torture is a known method of gleaning confessions from suspects, with beatings with metal rods or cables, suspension by the arms or legs, electric shock, and threats of rape of female relatives used on detainees.

Amnesty International has criticised Iraq for its "deeply flawed" justice system, which denies suspects the ability to prepare a defence. Confessions extracted under torture are used as evidence in hasty trials.

(French nationals (from top left to bottom right) Salim Machou, Mustapha Merzoughi, Brahim Nejara, Kevin Gonot, Yassine Sakkam and Leonard Lopez, all sentenced by a Baghdad court to death for joining the Islamic State group. Photo: Getty

Under Iraqi law, any affiliation with the terrorist organisation is equally punishable, meaning lower-level administrative workers will receive the same sentences as those who pulled the triggers.

Head of the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism in Paris, Jean-Charles Brisard, told the New York Times that France doesn't want to see these citizens returned to their home country because "there's not enough proof" to convict them in French courts.

It is still unclear what will happen to the roughly 2000 foreign fighters -- including Australian citizens -- who are currently detained after the fall of the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.

Sweden's interior minister, Mikael Damberg, has suggested an international tribunal to deal with these suspects is worth considering -- but it would be an expensive and time-consuming option.

In addition to this problem is the question of what will happen to the 45,000 children born without an official state under the terrorist regime, as Iraq has denied these children documents, rendering them nonexistent as citizens.