Dutch parliament debates prosecution of ISIS crimes with focus on Yezidis

German courts have already convicted five women for crimes against humanity related to the Yazidis committed in territories held by IS. (Arne Dedert POOL/AFP/File)
German courts have already convicted five women for crimes against humanity related to the Yazidis committed in territories held by IS. (Arne Dedert POOL/AFP/File)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Legal experts and Yezidi activists discussed the possibility of prosecuting ISIS fighters involved in crimes against Yezidis in the Dutch parliament on Thursday.

The majority of the Dutch parliament recently accepted a resolution calling on the government to include crimes against the Yezidi community in the collection of evidence against ISIS fighters

The resolution comes after the Netherlands repatriated more ISIS women from Syria earlier this month. The repatriation of ISIS women has led to worries among Yezidis living in the Netherlands, who suspect those women could have been involved in crimes against them.

Read More: Dutch government confirms repatriation of 5 suspected ISIS women from Syria

The Dutch parliament resolution said that "the practice of investigation, prosecution and trial of terrorist and international crimes and in any case actively involve and approach the Yezidis community in order to collect stories and testimonials for the purposes of evidence gathering."

ISIS subjected Yezidis of Sinjar to a campaign of genocide beginning in August 2014. Thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands more displaced from their homeland. Most fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries or the West.

Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of ISIS for years. Militants kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.

But until now, only a limited number of ISIS fighters were prosecuted for these crimes against Yezidis. 

In a landmark case in November, Germany jailed an Iraqi jihadist for life for his participation in the Yezidi Genocide. Moreover, German courts have already convicted five women for crimes against humanity related to the Yezidis committed in territories held by ISIS.

Read More: Germany jails Iraqi jihadist for life for Yezidi genocide

The Dutch parliament resolution also calls on the government to look into countries like Germany to learn from cases against ISIS men and women there.

Therefore, legal experts and Yezidi activists met on Thursday in the Dutch parliament to discuss the possibilities of prosecuting ISIS fighters and even setting up an international court to deal with ISIS crimes.

The Syrian Kurds have previously called for creating an international tribunal to prosecute ISIS fighters. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) hold over 10,000 ISIS fighters in northeastern Syria.

"It was an honor to discuss criminal accountability options for the #Yazidis this morning in the Dutch parliament, outlining challenges for prosecutions in Iraq/Syria, through international tribunal and domestic prosecutions elsewhere," Dr. Marieke de Hoon, Assistant Professor of International Law, International Criminal Law and Human Rights Law at the VU University in Amsterdam, tweeted.

Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), told Kurdistan 24 that "it is important that governments support Yezidi civil society - led by Yezidis ourselves - if we are serious about justice, accountability, and recovery in a sustainable,"

"Yezidi organizations have been working with law enforcement, prosecutors, and UN mechanisms to advance justice for our people," she said. "This is the best way for foreign governments to support Yezidis and ensure accountability for their citizens who joined ISIS."

The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh (UNITAD) is also investigating and collecting evidence against ISIS.

Germany earlier provided UNITAD with an additional one million euros for its investigations into how ISIS crimes were financed.

Read More: Kurdistan PM, new UNITAD head talk handover of evidence on ISIS crimes

Christian Ritscher, the head of UNITAD, previously led Germany's War Crimes Unit S4 at the Office of the Federal Public Prosecutor. He played a role in prosecuting ISIS spouses in Germany for war crimes they committed in Iraq and Syria.