Stevan Weine and Eric Rosand

Repatriating ISIS Families: An Opportunity to Show that ‘Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism’ Can Work

Just Security


Most receiving countries of families of ISIS fighters are regarding women returnees predominately as victims. Thus, most women are being treated outside the criminal justice system. Rather than giving them a prison cell, receiving governments are looking to provide mothers and their children with psycho-social support, specialized schooling, job training and family assistance. There is no shortage of international good practices and frameworks for this type of multi-dimensional, tailored support to address the needs of returnees who aren’t being handled by the criminal justice sector. However, the capacities and willingness of (often local) professionals and practitioners to implement these guidelines in the home countries is often limited. Getting this reintegration process right is not just a humanitarian and security imperative but addressing the challenges of working with returning mothers and children may be the best opportunity that any country, or the international community more broadly, will ever have to get preventing/countering violent extremism (P/CVE) right.