ISIS member convicted of crimes against humanity for aiding and abetting enslavement of a Yazidi woman

Düsseldorf, 23 April 2021

This week, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf convicted a 35-year-old German woman known as ‘Nurten J.’, of committing war crimes and aiding and abetting crimes against humanity for abuses against a Yazidi woman while she was a member of ISIS. She was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

The trial chamber of three judges found that Nurten J. had moved to Syria in 2015 and married a high-ranking ISIS member. She and her family lived in Syria in apartments that had been seized by ISIS. The judges held, based on the testimony of the Yazidi victim and the defendant herself, that Nurten J. had used a Yazidi woman who had been kidnapped and imprisoned by ISIS for slave labour at her house approximately 50 times. Nurten J. left ISIS when ISIS lost its territory there and she was arrested on her return to Germany in July 2020.

The victim, who participated in the case as a co-plaintiff as permitted under German law, is represented by Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, and German attorneys Natalie von Wistinghausen and Sonka Mehner. She was present in the court room when the judgment was rendered and following the judgment she stated that: “There is no punishment that could atone for the injustice that has been done to the Yazidi community. For me, it is irrelevant whether the accused is in custody or will eventually be free again. The only thing that matters is that something like this never happens again."

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, who herself is a survivor of enslavement and torture at the hands of ISIS, commented that: “This verdict is no small win. It is the culmination of many years of advocacy to hold ISIS militants accountable for genocide and sexual violence. The Yazidi survivor represented in this case bravely fought for justice, and today a German court recognized her rights and humanity. This conviction is not only an important precedent for international law, it is also a crucial landmark for the healing of Yazidi survivors. However, there are countless more ISIS perpetrators still walking free and many more survivors awaiting justice. Other countries must now follow Germany’s lead by prosecuting foreign nationals who joined ISIS’ ranks for crimes against humanity and genocide. Every survivor deserves their day in court and accountability for what was done to them.”

Victim counsel Amal Clooney stated that: “This judgment is a milestone in the fight for justice for the Yazidi genocide. It is a testament to the determination of Germany to go after these crimes, and to the courage of Yazidi survivors who are determined to speak out about what they suffered. It is shameful that after almost seven years there is still no international court to prosecute ISIS for genocide – but we will not be idle while we wait. This is the second conviction in Germany for crimes against humanity, and we are working to achieve many more.”

Natia Navrouzov, Legal Advocacy Director at the global Yazidi NGO Yazda, which is also represented by Ms Clooney and has helped to identify the victim, adds: “Once again, Germany shows its willingness to prosecute ISIS crimes and we will continue supporting its investigations as well as investigations of any other country that make justice for ISIS victims a priority. The survivor in this case entrusted her story to Yazda and we hope that her example will help other survivors to come forward. We will be there to accompany them on the road to justice that they will decide to follow.”

For a German version of this press release, please click here.

For an Arabic version, please click here.

Note to editors:

The full set of crimes for which the defendant was convicted was: aiding and abetting crimes against humanity (enslavement), serious deprivation of liberty, war crimes against property, membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, violations of the German War Weapons Control Act and neglecting her duties as a parent. The defendant pleaded guilty to some but not all of the charged crimes.

The defendant appealed the judgment.

German law does not permit disclosure of defendants’ full surnames.

The victim is part of a witness protection program. For the victim’s safety, her identity cannot be revealed.