Some 40,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A German woman convicted for her affiliation with ISIS has been sentenced to death by an Iraqi court, said the spokesperson for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council on Sunday, the first time a foreign woman has been sentenced to death in Iraq.
“The Central Criminal Court looked into the case of a terror suspect who holds German citizenship and sentenced her to death based on article four of Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws,” read a statement by Abdul Sattar al- Bayraktar, spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council on their official website.
The German citizen, who is of Moroccan origin, “confessed during the investigations that she travelled from Germany to Syria and then to Iraq because she had faith in the Islamic State,” he stated, adding that she also brought two of her daughters with her and wedded them to other ISIS members.
“The suspect provided logistical support and help to the terror group in their crimes and was convicted in being complicit in attacking Iraqi security and military forces,” Bayraktar said.
The spokesman refused to release the woman’s name.
Although she is the first woman to be convicted of ISIS-related crimes and sentenced to death, she is actually the second foreign national to be sentenced to death in Iraq for affiliation with ISIS.
Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced in September of last year that a criminal court in Baghdad sentenced a Russian man to death for being a member of ISIS.
The ISIS member from Russia confessed “to carrying out several terrorist operations against the security services since 2015,” Bayraktar said in a statement on September 12.
In accordance to Article four of Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, he was sentenced to death by hanging, Bayraktar added.
The US intelligence community estimates that some 40,000 foreign fighters have joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria since the extremist organization first declared its caliphate in 2014 in Mosul.
However, it still remains unclear just how many ISIS fighters, including foreigners, have been captured and are awaiting court trials since the country was liberated from ISIS last month.
According to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) in early December, the group knows of at least 7,374 individuals that the Iraqi and Kurdish judiciaries are trying or have convicted, stating that there have been 92 executions since 2014.
HRW stated that Iraqi authorities would not release the total number of foreigners who have alleged links to ISIS currently in detention. However, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated on September 17 that authorities were detaining a German teenager, as well as citizens from France, Syria, Iran and Belgium.
It was unclear if the foreigners were being held awaiting trial or for extradition back to their home countries.
A KRG spokesperson told HRW that they had extradited two individuals with ISIS affiliation back to their home countries. Baghdad has yet to release information regarding extradition of ISIS members.
Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws provides for death by hanging or firing squad. The death penalty has met sharp criticism by the United Nations.
Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a press release from his office in September that “Under international law, the death penalty may only be imposed after a strict set of substantive and procedural requirements have been met.”
Hussein said it was “extremely doubtful” that the strict due process rules and fair trail guarantees, such as a person’s rights to legal assistance or a full appeals process, had been met in every case.
He also stressed that if the death penalty was to be imposed on confirmed ISIS affiliated members that it should only be used in the “most serious of crimes.”
“We can all agree that members of terrorist groups who are proven to have committed serious crimes should be held fully accountable for them,” Hussein said. “However, Iraq’s use of anti-terrorism legislation to impose the death penalty for a wide range of acts does not appear to meet the strict threshold of ‘most serious crimes.’”
Human rights staff of the UN have repeatedly requested information in regards to the use of the death penalty over the last two years, but have yet to receive responses from either the judiciary or Iraqi government.
Hussein stated that the UN was concerned about Iraq’s lack of compliance in its international human rights obligations by imposing the death penalty.
He also called upon the Iraqi government to make legal reforms that would ensure prisoners receive due process and fair trial standards.
In early September, at the request of the Iraqi government, the UN Security Council unanimously approved establishing a team to assist Iraq in investigating ISIS crimes and hold the group accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
The UN’s team stated they will respect the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Iraq as they collect evidence to be used in fair and independent criminal proceedings in Iraqi courts.