In December 2016, the Supreme Court of Germany authorised the issuance of an arrest warrant against an ISIS commander who is allegedly responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Yazidi minority in Syria and Iraq. The ISIS commander – whose name will not be disclosed for the time being – was identified for prosecution by the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office. He is said to be high-ranking and responsible for the abduction and sexual enslavement of Yazidi women.
In August 2014, ISIS attacked the Sinjar region in Northern Iraq, homeland to the Yazidis, a peaceful minority targeted by ISIS because of their ancient religion. Thousands of men and older women were executed on the spot, while girls were captured to become “sex slaves” and young boys kidnapped and trained to be child soldiers. Over 360,000 Yazidis were displaced in a matter of days.
Over two and a half years later, more than 3,000 Yazidis remain in ISIS captivity. The United Nations has recognised that the crimes committed by ISIS against the Yazidis amount to genocide. But to date, no member of ISIS has been indicted or tried anywhere in the world for these atrocities.
This arrest warrant is an opportunity to change that. Amal Clooney, counsel to Yazda, Nadia Murad and other Yazidi ISIS survivors, congratulates the German Federal Prosecutor Christian Ritscher and his team for this achievement. It is hoped that the perpetrator can now be arrested and brought to trial. And that prosecutors in other countries show a similar commitment to holding members of ISIS accountable through their courts, where there is jurisdiction to do so.