Inhuman Iraqi rush to judgment

From the July-August 2018 issue of News & Letters

Iraq’s court system has been blind to the element of coercion as they rush to put to death not only ISIS fighters but their hostages as well. On one April afternoon, two hours was all a judge needed to convict 14 women who had been rounded up from areas liberated from ISIS and sentence them to hang. Their children, the youngest two years old, will be left orphaned.

Two of the women on trial, Amina Hassan and Nazli Ismail, both from Turkey, pleaded with the judge that they were forced to come to Syria by their husbands, fleeing for the Iraqi border after an air strike killed their husbands. They were ignored.

Quoted in the New York Times, Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch, who was present at the 14 trials, said that in addition to women, “cooks, medical workers, everyone is given the death penalty….the presumption is because you are foreign and you were in ISIS territory, there is no need to provide more evidence.”

JUSTICE PUT ON HOLD

Besides moral concerns, the executions have horrible political ramifications. Insofar as Iraqi law metes out the same punishment to terrorist fighters as it does to those who finance or otherwise assist them, there is little incentive for the government to actually investigate serious crimes such as systemic rape, slavery, and genocide. No higher punishment is available anyway. Countries where armed ideological groups still hold territory, for example Nigeria and Burkina Faso, have cause to worry that the frenetic pace of executions in Iraq will serve as a bad precedent, dooming efforts that might otherwise entice fighters to desert their posts.

—Buddy Bell

One thought on “Inhuman Iraqi rush to judgment

  1. There is another injustice being perpetrated in Iraq by those trying ISIS for war crimes and doing it in such an unprincipled way. Not only are those being judged not experiencing justice, but even those who were victims of ISIS are not seeing justice. Yazidis, who certainly suffered horribly from ISIS, are not considered in these trials. An article in Al Monitor gives voice to a Yazidi woman, Hayat, who was enslaved by ISIS. It makes the point that to help women brutalized by violence, the perpetrators need to be punished. According to the article, what happened to the Yazidi is not considered in any of the trials in Iraq against ISIS. It is another way of making the Yazidi invisible. Iraq needs to concentrate on justice, not retaliation. On many levels these “trials,” these rushes to judgment, are wrong.

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