Should ISIS fighters and families be allowed home?

Turkey's government has captured many thousands of ISIS fighters as a result of its operations in northern Syria. Many of these prisoners have already been deported to some of the more than 100 countries they come from, and Ankara says it intends to send more. There are also more than 10,000 women and children – family members of ISIS fighters – still living in camps inside Syria.

These facts create a dilemma for the governments of countries where the ISIS detainees are still citizens: Should these terrorist fighters and their families be allowed to return, in many cases to face trial back home? Or should countries refuse to allow them back?


Consider the best arguments from both sides…

Accept them:

  • Repatriated fighters and their families should stand trial for membership in a terrorist organization at home, and the guilty should go to jail. That's better than allowing them to remain at large.
  • Some of these ISIS fighters and their families were brainwashed. Others, particularly some of the women, were coerced to join a fight they wanted no part of. Yes, many of those who claim to be victims are lying, but it's better to allow a guilty person to return home to stand trial than to leave an innocent person to a potentially terrible fate they don't deserve.
  • Then there are the children, thousands of whom were born in Syria. They're guilty of nothing. Many of these children are sick, malnourished, and at risk of death inside overcrowded and dangerous refugee camps, which are also centers of radicalization.
  • Governments must abide by their own laws. Many of the fighters and their family members are still citizens of the countries they left, and citizens have rights. In many countries, the children of citizens are also considered citizens, even if they were born elsewhere.

Reject them:

  • A citizen who declares war on his or her own government and carries out or enables the murder of innocent people should forfeit some rights—including the right of citizenship.
  • It's true that some of these people may have been tricked or coerced into a war they didn't want, but how are courts in their countries of origin expected to separate fact from fiction.
  • It is not the responsibility of governments to rescue people from their own bad decisions.
  • Government has responsibility to protect all its citizens, not just those who chose a life of terrorism. On December 1, Usman Khan stabbed two people to death and wounded three others on London Bridge. Khan was a convicted terrorist, though not directly affiliated with ISIS, who was released after serving less than half of his 16-year prison sentence because he was judged to have been rehabilitated.

The Bottom Line: This debate will become more important in dozens of countries around the world in coming months and years, because the detention of thousands of people in camps in countries that don't want them is unsustainable.

What's the right answer? Tell us what you think.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

More

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.

More

India's supreme court to weigh in on citizenship law – India's southern state of Kerala filed a lawsuit in India's Supreme Court, claiming that a contentious new citizenship law that's caused nationwide protests is discriminatory and violates India's secular constitution. Kerala is the first state to legally challenge the new law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, which opens a path to Indian citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries— provided that they are not Muslims. In addition to the Kerala action, at least some of the 60 petitions filed by individuals and political parties are also likely to be heard by the court next week. Amid a climate of deepening uncertainty for India's 200 million Muslims, we're watching closely to see how the court rules.

More

Vladimir Putin has held power for twenty years now, alternating between the prime minister's seat and the presidency twice. He has made himself so indispensable to Russia's political system that even the speaker of the legislature has mused that "without Putin, there is no Russia." The constitution says he can't serve as president again after his current term ends in 2024 – but he'll find a way to keep power somehow. As he starts to lay those plans, here's a look back at his approval rating over the past two decades.