Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Yazidi genocide: Historic guilty verdict for IS jihadists could change how atrocities are brought to justice

The recent genocide verdict brought by a German court against an Iraqi member of Islamic State for crimes including the murder of a five-year-old Yazidi girl is a landmark ruling that would clear the way for similar trials. This decision was made possible thanks to a detailed (and remarkably swift) report in 2016, which established that violence against the Yazidi community in northwestern Iraq amounted to genocide.

Taha al-Jumaili was sentenced to life in prison after a court heard that the jihadist had enslaved a five-year-old girl in 2015, chained her and left to die of thirst.

The concept of international crimes is relatively new, stemming from the 1998 International Criminal Court Statute (Rome Statute). These are deemed “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole”. At the top of this list is the crime of genocide. It is defined in Article 6 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as “acts done with intent to destroy wholly or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”.

The development of international criminal law is deeply rooted in the atrocities committed during World War II in Europe and Asia, which have been brought to light at the Nuremberg and Tokyo war crimes tribunals. These two leading tribunals established individual criminal responsibility of heads of state and military leaders for gross violations of human rights. It was swiftly supported by a 1946 resolution of the United Nations General Assembly and then by the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The significance of these developments is that international law rarely holds individuals responsible for its violations. It has previously only done so in cases of piracy and the slave-trade. Without this structural tool of individual responsibility for a heinous crime, it would not be possible to bring criminals to justice and prevent such behavior in future.

Genocide is known as a “crime of the crime”, but it is also the most difficult to prove because it requires not only intent, but specific intent to destroy an identifiable group of people. it occurs.

establishing genocide as a crime

The guilty verdict against al-Jumaili was possible only because of work done before the case, which established the incident of the genocide in relation to the crime committed by this man: the independent International Commission of Inquiry told the Human Rights Council in 2016 that the Yazidi The massacre was being carried out against the community by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS).

Thousands of Yazidi people have been killed or disappeared in Iraq and Syria since the start of the conflict.
EPA-EFE/Gallon Haji

In its 40-page report, it was established that IS had tried to destroy the Yazidis. It did so through grievous physical and mental harm through murders, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forced relocation. These are all acts prohibited under the Rome Statute.

In April 2020, al-Jumaili was charged with a crime against international law under the German Criminal Code, which denies Rome law to German criminal law for buying a Yazidi woman and her child from an IS fighter and later providing them. was implemented in With insufficient food and preventing them from following their religion. The child later died of being tied to a window and left unprotected in temperatures of 50°C as a punishment for bed-wetting.

rare cases of justice

Iraq is not a party to the Rome Statute – and therefore the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction over these crimes. Cases must be conducted in the domestic court of a country that is a signatory to the Rome Statute or recognizes a special provision in international law, known as universal jurisdiction, through its customary law.

Usually, German courts do not have jurisdiction in this case because the accused was a foreign national and the crime took place outside Germany (in Iraq). But since Germany recognized universal jurisdiction, its court was able to hear the case.

In practice, few countries have ever exercised this jurisdiction. Past examples include the arrest in London of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on an international warrant for crimes committed during his rule from 1973 to 1990. Other indictments include individuals from Guatemala and Spain.

But it is important that states do so – since international crimes are not prosecuted enough and are often prosecuted as crimes in national criminal law. For example, in March 2020, an Iraqi court sentenced Mohammed Rashid, also a former IS terrorist, to death for “repeatedly raping a Yazidi woman” whom he had taken captive and was forced to marry him. However, there was no mention of massacre.

While it is possible for the United Nations Security Council to refer matters to the ICC, geopolitics has often intervened to prevent unity among the permanent members of the Security Council. This effectively means that this avenue of prosecuting international crimes has been closed. Therefore, given the extremely sensitive and highly political nature of the prosecution of international crimes, the German court has taken an important step in the matter, assuming universal jurisdiction.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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