Netherlands and Belgium join international probe into crimes against Yazidis in Syria and Iraq


The Hague (AP) — The Netherlands and Belgium have joined an international investigation into atrocities committed against the Yazidi minority in Syria and Iraq, the European Union’s judicial cooperation agency said Monday.

The Joint Investigation Team was established by France and Sweden in October 2021 and supported by The Hague-based Eurojust to identify and prosecute foreign extremists who targeted Yazidis during the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Eurojust said the teamwork already has borne fruit, including in France, where a Yazidi victim of a French jihadist couple was identified. That led to to charges of genocide and crimes against humanity being added to an existing case.

The joint investigation team is part of a broader international effort to mete out justice for atrocities targeting Yazidis, a minority considered heretics by the Islamic State militant group.

A United Nations probe concluded in 2021 that crimes committed against Yazidis by Islamic State extremists amounted to genocide.

IS attacked the heartland of the Yazidi community at the foot of Sinjar Mountain in August 2014. During the weeklong assault, IS killed hundreds of Yazidis and abducted 6,417, more than half of them women and girls. Most of the captured adult men were likely eventually killed. Women and girls were considered commodities for rape and servitude.

Prosecutions of returning foreign militants for crimes against Yazidis already are underway in Europe.

A German woman was convicted last week of keeping a Yazidi woman as a slave during her time with the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and sentenced to nine years and three months in prison.

The state court in the western city of Koblenz convicted the 37-year-old woman of crimes against humanity, membership in a foreign terrorist organization and being an accessory to genocide, German news agency dpa reported. Authorities have identified her only as Nadine K. in line with German privacy rules.

In February, Dutch authorities announced that they were prosecuting a woman who traveled from the Netherlands to join IS on a charge of slavery as a crime against humanity. The woman allegedly used a Yazidi woman as a slave in Syria in 2015. The case marked the first Dutch trial of an alleged IS member for crimes against a Yazidi victim.

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