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The Netherlands tries for the first time a woman repatriated from Syria for “crimes against humanity”


Dutch justice intends, for the first time, to try for crimes against humanity a woman rallied to the Islamic State (IS) organization and repatriated from Syria. Hasna Aarab, a resident of Hengelo (north-east), left at the beginning of 2015 with her 4-year-old son for the combat zones, will have to answer soon – the date is not fixed – of acts of slavery to the regard to the Yazidi minority and membership of IS. Indicted, she will appear in the company of eleven other women.

The Dutch authorities have long refused the repatriation of adult women who had joined the ranks of IS and were therefore tried in absentia. This choice was revised when a court in Rotterdam announced in May 2022 that the prosecution would lose its right to prosecute if, from now on, the women were not brought back to the country to appear.

Sixteen of them – and thirty-nine children – were then able to return to the country in 2022. And justice now intends to imitate Germany where, among thirty-two women repatriated and brought to justice, six were, at the beginning of February, convicted of crimes against humanity for the mistreatment of Yazidi women.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Germany, the Parliament recognizes that the Yazidis suffered a “genocide” in Iraq and Syria

“It is important that we plan to try ‘returned’ women [rapatriées]not only for belonging to ISIS but for crimes against Yazidis”, comments Sofia Koller, of the American NGO Counter Extremism Project. In Sinjar province in northern Iraq, at least 6,000 women and children have been captured by IS, according to the United Nations. And forcibly converted to Islam. Women were enslaved, young boys enlisted as soldiers. Between 2,000 and 5,500 men were reportedly killed.

Read also (2019): Article reserved for our subscribers The perilous return of Yazidis to Iraq

In 2014, the UN considered that the abuses committed by the IS could constitute an “attempt of genocide”. In a 2018 reportthe International Federation for Human Rights considered that they could be qualified as genocide and crimes against humanity.

Previous trials

If they had not, so far, launched trials on the basis of this incrimination, the Netherlands tried men and women members of the IS. In April 2021, the Rotterdam court sentenced a Dutch-Moroccan national to four years in prison for her membership in the Islamic State, propaganda and attempted recruitment of fighters. Deprived of her Dutch nationality, she will no longer be allowed to live in the country once her sentence has been served.

Read also (2021): Syria: four Dutch people close to IS handed over to the Netherlands

In September 2021, two Syrians, two brothers who had held senior positions in the Al-Nusra Front and IS before seeking asylum in the Netherlands, were sentenced to fifteen and eleven years in detention. In January 2023, another asylum seeker, who was also a member of terrorist groups, was apprehended.

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