ISIS fighters have gone after the Kurdish-speaking minority in Syria and Iraq, considering them idol worshippers. Reports suggest that the Islamists raped, tortured and killed Yazidi women and children. Although ISIS were pronounced defeated months ago, many foreign fighters still remain in the custody of Kurdish authorities in Syria.
The Yazidi Women's Council has commenced a legal battle against Justice Minister Katarina Barley and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, accusing the German officials of obstruction of justice, the German outlet Deutsche Welle reports. According to the plaintiffs, the German federal government has not done enough to persecute ISIS, who are accused of multiple war crimes against Kurdish-speaking minorities.
The council members insist that the German authorities have obstructed justice, which is a “criminal offence”, because they have lingered in bringing the Germans, who fought for ISIS and are being held in custody by the self-proclaimed Kurdish authorities, from Syria to put them on trial at home despite offers from the Kurds.
"The result of this refusal to transfer German nationals in the custody of the local administration in northern and eastern Syria… has delayed — if not prevented — punishment (from being doled out)”, attorney Berthold Fresenius noted, as cited public broadcasters NDR and WDR.
However, the lawsuit has been received critically by Germany’s Central Yazidi Council who has branded this step “wrong and ineffective”. Its president Irfan Ortac told the German outlet Die Welt that he does not understand the goal of this lawsuit and linked the group with the Kurdish workers' party, PKK. He acknowledged that German jihadists had committed violent crimes, so Germany has a responsibility to prosecute them. But according to him, “a criminal complaint is the wrong way to remind Germany of this responsibility”. He noted what the country has done instead, such as taking in Yazidi refugees. Germany is also said to be the first country to brand ISIS attacks on the Yazidis genocide.
WDR and NDR cite stats saying that at least 74 German ISIS supporters are currently being held in northern Syria by the unrecognised Kurdish authorities. At the same time, there are arrest warrants against 21 persons suspected of supporting terrorists and committing war crimes.
Germany does not seem eager to see ISIS fighters back home, as the country’s Justice Ministry recently suggested stripping jihadists of their citizenship. The country’s authorities want their nationals who fought for terrorists to be prosecuted on the spot, so some of them have been already tried in Iraq.
However, there is an issue that would make any legal decision by the Kurdish authorities in Syria invalid because the administration is not recognised internationally.
The repatriation of jihadists, as well as their families, remains a sensitive and politically heated topic not only in Germany but also in other European countries.
The United States earlier recommended that each country take charge of its own jihadists and judge them on its territory, whereas France, for instance, also wants the perpetrators to be judged where they were captured.