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Germany/Iraq: historic Yazidi ruling over enslavement and child death welcomed

Iraqi man Taha Al-J. found guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes

In 2015, he purchased a Yazidi woman and her five-year-old daughter, chaining the girl in the sun and allowing her to die  

‘Further trials are needed’ - Alexander Schwarz

Responding to the conviction in Germany today of a former Islamic State armed group member - Taha Al-J., an Iraqi citizen whose full name was withheld because of privacy rules - for genocide and crimes against humanity in relation to acts committed against the Yazidis in Iraq in 2015, Alexander Schwarz, international law expert at Amnesty International Germany, said: 

“The process in Frankfurt is an important step. But further trials are needed, particularly into gender-based violence such as mass rapes, forced marriages and other forms of sexualised violence.”

Meike Olszak, international criminal law expert at Amnesty International Germany, said: 

“Today’s historic verdict confirms for the first time in a courtroom that the acts of the Islamic State against the Yazidi religious community in northern Iraq amount to the crime of genocide. 

“Survivors who participated in the case underlined in harrowing detail the systematic nature of the targeted extermination of Yazidis in Iraq.”

Pari Ibrahim, an Iraqi Yazidi, said: 

“Seven years after the genocide, it was time to move forward in the fight against impunity for crimes against Yazidis and bring justice to the victims. 

“The verdict can only be a beginning, further proceedings must follow in order to bring to light the truth about the serious crimes against my religious community.”

Girl left to die in the sun

Taha Al-J. was convicted of genocide for purchasing a Yazidi woman and her five-year-old daughter as slaves in 2015. 

The Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt found that Taha Al-J. - as a member of Islamic State armed group - intended to eliminate the religious minority of the Yazidis by purchasing the two Yazidis and enslaving them. The defendant punished the Yazidi girl by handcuffing her to a window in the scorching heat, unprotected from the sun and letting her die in front of her mother. 

Today’s judgment is the first time a former member of ISIS has been convicted of genocide. The trial - which began in April last year - was also the first case based on the principle of universal jurisdiction - addressing crimes under international law that were committed abroad - by a perpetrator who is not a German citizen and who was extradited to Germany on the basis of an international arrest warrant.

Sinjar massacre

On 3 August 2014, ISIS launched an offensive in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq and carried out large-scale human rights violations against the civilian population. This involved mass killings, sexual violence, torture and enslavement. More than 5,000 people were killed and some 400,000 people displaced from their homes. To date, more than 2,800 Yazidi women and children are still held captive by ISIS or remain missing.


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