29. December 2020 – ADVOCACY
As a human rights organization founded immediately after the genocide of the Yazidis to provide assistance to the women who escaped from IS captivity, we demand that the German government and the international community give the highest priority to prosecuting the perpetrators. The most serious crimes affect the international community as a whole and cannot remain unpunished. This is especially true when the perpetrators come from Germany. Hundreds of Germans have murdered in the name of IS in Iraq and Syria in recent years, raped women and children and systematically committed human rights crimes against Yazidis.
We are therefore exchanging information with international organizations and security authorities, and in Germany with political representatives and domestic security authorities, in particular, the Federal Criminal Police Office and ZBKV.
When Germany established the International Criminal Code in 2002, it promised to make an active contribution to the international prosecution of crimes under international law – and it has not remained idle in doing so. The fact that the Office of the Attorney General of Germany is investigating IS as part of a structural investigation and that several suspects have already been detained is absolutely to be welcomed. It is also positive that the Public Prosecutor General’s International Criminal Law Unit has clearly shifted its focus in recent years toward Syria and Iraq. The rising numbers of investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General clearly indicate such a shift.
Despite these achievements, however, prosecution efforts so far are still in contrast to the mass sexual crimes committed against Yazidi women and girls. This is because, to date, there has been no focus on addressing sexual violence in Germany’s persecution efforts. To this day – four years after the genocide against the Yazidis – there are still no charges of genocide.
And this, even though thousands of European citizens in the ranks of the so-called Islamic State have participated in the crimes against humanity – Europe cannot and must not refuse dealing with and prosecuting the crimes. With regard to its own history and the Nuremberg Trials, we also see Germany as having a duty. We are convinced that the legal reappraisal of these crimes not only makes justice possible in individual cases, but also represents a very specific concept of historical justice: It is our historical responsibility to make the break between a violent past and a peaceful future based on the rule of law. Historical justice is a necessary condition for long-term peace.
Germany is one of the few countries in which the principle of international law applies. This is precisely why Germany plays a key role in the fight against impunity in Syria and Iraq.
Despite the undoubted efforts of the law enforcement authorities to punish the horrific crimes of the Islamic State, however, not all possibilities are being exhausted.
Düzen Tekkal, political scientist, documentary filmmaker and founder of the human rights organization HAWAR.help and Dr. Alexander Schwarz, an international law expert at the University of Leipzig, an expert on gender-based persecution of Yazidis by members of IS and HAWAR.help international law expert, therefore demand:
IS has committed massive crimes under international law and those responsible should not expect their crimes to go unpunished. We owe it to the survivors that the perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes. And not in twenty or thirty years, but as soon as possible.
This is not only about individual justice, but also about historical justice. After all, the trials not only end with a verdict, but also simultaneously document the individual crimes for the sake of future generations.
Rigorous prosecution of international crimes by German authorities would be an important signal to the victims of the crimes – and a warning to all future international law violators. There cannot be a safe haven for the perpetrators of war crimes and crimes under international law. Not in Germany, but also not in any other country in the world. It is time to end the inadequate processing of human rights crimes against the Yazidis.