German court convicts ISIS member of genocide in historic ruling

By Kit Roberts

A GERMAN court has made an historic ruling after it became the first court to convict a member of ISIS for genocide.

Taha A.-J., an Iraqi national, was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes against Yazidis in Fallujah in Iraq, including enslavement, and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  The victim was present in court when the sentence was passed.

Despite neither he nor his victims being German nationals, in cases of genocide and war crimes the German courts were able to sentence him under the principle of Universal Jurisdiction.

The judgement described in horrific detail the extent of Taha A.-J.’s crimes after he first joined Islamic State sometime before March 2013.

In Summer 2015, he “purchased” and enslaved a five-year-old Yazidi girl named Reda, as well as her mother, who had been taken prisoner by the group. He and his wife subsequently held Reda and her mother at their residence.  

There, both were forced to work as slaves, beaten and abused, as well as being forced to practice Islam.

Reda eventually died after Taha A.-J. chained her to window bars outside and left her hanging in the heat. This was as punishment for wetting the bed.

Taha A.-J.’s wife, a German national, had previously been jailed for ten years for her involvement in the crimes.

Reacting to the judgement Amal Clooney, counsel for the victim, said in a statement: “This is the moment Yazidis have been waiting for. 

“To finally hear a judge, after 7 years, declare that what they suffered was genocide. To watch a man face justice for killing a Yazidi girl – because she was Yazidi. There is no more denying it – ISIS is guilty of genocide. 

“I am in awe of my client’s courage and grateful to Germany for defending the principle of universal jurisdiction which means that crimes like this must be prosecuted wherever and whenever they occur.”

Taha A.-J.’s actions were part of a ruthless campaign by ISIS against the Yazidi people, a Kurdish-speaking minority community in Northern Iraq.

A genocide in the mid-2010s saw thousands of Yazidis displaced or killed by ISIS. Dozens of massacres of Yazidis have also been documented from this period.

Despite this, the ruling in Germany marks the first time that a member of ISIS has been convicted of genocide.

Nobel Laureate and Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad said: “This verdict is a win for survivors of genocide, survivors of sexual violence, and the entire Yazidi community. 

“Thank you to Germany for today’s historic conviction. Germany is not only raising awareness about the need for justice, but is acting on it. 

“Their use of universal jurisdiction in this case can and should be replicated by governments around the world.

“When survivors seek justice, they look for someone to give them hope that justice is possible.”

Featured Image: Pixabay

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