Canada will not answer a call by Washington that U.S. allies bring ISIS volunteers home to face prosecution.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the proposition is too risky.
Instead, Goodale says, Ottawa will continue to work with its allies in the Five Eyes Intelligence sharing network (Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the U.S.) to gather evidence that can be used to convict Canadians who joined ISIS.
Washington issued the call on Monday, saying the Syrian Defence Forces have taken custody of hundreds of foreign fighters from countries around the world.
“We have heard the request, or the suggestion, from the United States, but at this point, the fact of the matter remains that is a dangerous and dysfunctional part of the world in which we have no diplomatic presence and we are not going to put our diplomatic officers or consular officials at risk,” Goodale said Tuesday.
The federal government said in December that it did not expect to see many foreign fighters return to Canada, but prosecuting those who have ramains a challenge.
It estimated that about 60 people suspected of engaging in extremist activities abroad had returned to Canada while another 190 remained abroad.
Most of the 60 who came back to Canada returned from Turkey, Iraq or Syria.
The government did not confirm those numbers, citing Canada’s privacy act.
Both the U.S. Department of Defense and the United Nations estimate that approximately 30,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Middle East
With files from CBC, Global News