On a visit to Stockholm on Friday, Nasrin Abdullah, General Commander of the YPJ, or Women’s Protection Unit, said that it was Sweden’s responsibility to prosecute and jail its own citizens.
“Every country must take its responsibility,” she told Sweden’s TT newswire, explaining that if Sweden and other European countries refused to accept the captives, it would be “a big problem” for the Kurds.
“We don’t actually know what we will do with the prisoners.
“According to our constitution, they are not allowed to be executed, so they’ll probably have to stay where they are,” she said.
But Sweden’s justice minister Morgan Johansson told TT that Sweden felt it would be better if the terrorist fighters were at least tried in Syria or Iraq.
“It might be more difficult to carry out an investigation which could lead to a prosecution if the witnesses were all in Syria and Iraq.
“The justice process should, if it is going to be effective, be carried out there,” he said.
The YPJ is holding roughly 300 foreign Isis fighters from 40 different countries, although Abdullah told TT that she would only give details on the number of Swedish citizens being held once formal negotiations opened with Sweden.
Abdullah said Kurdish forces were currently trying to open negotiations with Swedish authorities over the captives. But Johansson contradicted her, maintaining that Sweden’s authorities had yet to be contacted by the YPJ about the prisoners.
“The first thing is for the identity of the individuals to be made clear so we know they really are Swedish citizens,” he said.
“The second thing is that if they have committed crimes where they are, they should be put in front of a court there, where there is a possibility of investigating them.”
He denied that Sweden was trying to duck the foreign fighters issue.
“What I want is for people who have committed crimes to face justice in some way or another,” he said.
“It’s important that we can send the signal that if you go to another country to join a terrorist sect and carry out terrible violent acts, that you risk punishment.”
He warned that Sweden had yet to criminalise involvement in a terrorist organisation, making it hard to punish Isis fighters solely for their allegiance to the group.
“Those people have carried out a long list of crimes there, like murder, kidnapping, rape, arson. It’s always more effective to investigate that sort of thing right where it happened.”
Around ten people with links to Isis returned to Sweden last year after travelling to the terror organization's areas in Syria or Iraq, according to the head of the Swedish security police.