on the First ISIL member to be tried in the Netherlands for crimes against the Yazidis
15 February 2023
A Dutch woman, Hasna A. appeared before the Hague District Court in the Netherlands, suspected of several crimes, including slavery as a crime against humanity and membership in a terrorist organisation. According to the Dutch authorities, the Dutch ISIL returnee is accused of holding a Yazidi female survivor, only referred to as Z. for her safety, as a slave for several months in 2015. Hasna A. allegedly forced Z. to carry out housework for several hours a day. The prosecutors relied on Z.’s and two other witnesses’ testimonies to build their case.
Yazda and Nadia’s Initiative welcome this historic development, as this is the first time the Netherlands are bringing a case against an alleged ISIL member for crimes against the Yazidi community. On 3 August 2014, ISIL commenced its genocidal campaign against the Yazidi people. Both a UN Commission of Inquiry and UNITAD concluded that ISIL’s acts against the Yazidi community amount to crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, as has Germany’s highest court.
The accused, along with eleven other female Dutch nationals suspected of being members of ISIL appeared yesterday and today before Dutch courts for pro forma hearings. These are hearings where the courts decide whether the women should continue to be held in pre-trial detention. The courts will not decide on questions of guilt at this stage. All twelve women were repatriated from a prison camp in Syria in November last year.
Yazda will follow the proceedings closely. It is hoped they will be the start of further criminal trials in the Netherlands against ISIL members for crimes against Yazidis.
So far, Germany has been the only country prosecuting ISIL members for international crimes against the Yazidis along with other countries carrying out investigations, notably France and Sweden. Germany convicted two ISIL members for genocide to date, and an additional ISIL member is currently on trial in Koblenz for this crime. Just last month, the highest German court confirmed the first ever genocide conviction against the Yazidi community.
Five other ISIL members have been convicted by German courts for crimes against humanity and war crimes for their attacks against the Yazidi community in the last few years.
These trials in European jurisdictions are crucial for survivors as they remain for now their sole avenue for justice. Indeed, Iraq has to date still not codified the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within its criminal legal system. Without this, crimes committed by ISIL against the Yazidi community and other minorities cannot be prosecuted to their full extent in Iraq.
Natia Navrouzov, Legal Advocacy Director at Yazda commented: “We commend the Dutch investigators and prosecutors who have been working tirelessly to identify Yazidi survivors who were held captive by Dutch nationals or residents of the Netherlands. We will continue to support their work and Yazidi survivors who want to join these proceedings.”
Amal Clooney, a British barrister who represents Yazidi survivors and Yazda commented: “I congratulate the Dutch authorities for bringing this important case. But nearly a decade after ISIL genocidal campaign against the Yazidi people began, this is only the second jurisdiction that is trying ISIL fighters for these crimes. I hope that other states will finally follow their lead.”
(c) 2023, Yazda