Iraq court hands Turkish women death sentence

Thursday, 01 Mar, 2018

An Iraqi criminal court on Sunday sentenced 15 Turkish women to death by hanging after finding them guilty of belonging to the Islamic State or Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a judicial official said.

Thousands of people, including hundreds of foreigners, are awaiting trial in Iraq on charges of aiding or being members of Isis, including 560 women and 600 minors.

The verdicts were issued by the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad after it was proven that the 16 Turkish women belonged to the Islamic State.

Iraq has additionally handed four women and 27 children to Russian Federation who are suspected of ties to ISIS.

Human rights organizations and observers contend that the legal process in Iraq is not fair.

Human Rights Watch has criticised the courts for handing down death sentences for non-violent crimes, and claims that numerous women were tricked or coerced into joining the terrorist group. Further in December, Iraq claimed victory over the defeat of ISIS which had seized about a third of the country in Iraq. In total, officials estimate that more than 20,000 people are being held in prison for membership to a terrorist organization. There is no official figure.

Defense lawyers also argued militant husbands either tricked or forced their wives into traveling to Iraq and Syria.

Children denied birth certificates "may be considered stateless and may not be allowed to enroll in school", while widows who fail to get death certificates for their husbands can not inherit or remarry, it said. It suggests that the Iraqi authorities "should develop a national strategy to prioritize the prosecution of those who committed the most serious crimes". The group has been driven out of all population centres it once controlled on both sides of the Iraqi-Syrian border, but members have continued to carry out bombings and other attacks in Iraq. Many women came or were brought from overseas in the territories under the control of the jihadist group.