Iraq condemns six Turkish women to death for IS membership

Iraq condemns six Turkish women to death for IS membership
Iraq handed the death penalty to a group of Turkish women charged with being members of IS, as rights group condemn the 'unfair' punishments given to non-combatants.
3 min read
02 April, 2018
Iraqi authorities are taking severe measures against IS after declaring victory over the group [Getty]

A Baghdad court on Monday sentenced six Turkish women to death and a seventh to life in prison for membership of the Islamic State group, a judicial source said.

The women - all accompanied by small children in the court - had surrendered to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters having fled Tal Afar, one of the last IS bastions to fall to Iraqi security forces last year, the source told AFP.

The women told the court they had entered the country to join their husbands fighting for IS in the so-called "caliphate" which the group declared in 2014 in territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

In February, Iraq condemned another 15 Turkish women to death on the same charge.

Since January, a German woman and a woman from Turkey have also been handed the death penalty, in rulings which Human Rights Watch (HRW) have condemned as "unfair".

Experts estimate that a total of 20,000 people are being held in jail in Iraq for alleged membership of IS. There is no official figure.

Iraq has detained at least 560 women - as well as 600 children - identified as jihadis or relatives of suspected IS fighters.

Separately, authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan said in early February they had detained some 4,000 suspected IS members, including foreigners.

The news comes just days after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made a renewed announcement of his country's victory over the extremist group, and that security forces had now "taken control of all of Iraq", al-Araby al-Jadeed reported.

Read more: Islamic State families struggle with life after the 'caliphate'

Since the recapture of territory from IS, Iraqi authorities have been using the full force of the law against its former members, issuing a series of executions and severe punishments.

Iraq's anti-terrorism law empowers courts to convict people who are believed to have aided IS, even if they are not accused of carrying out attacks.

It also allows for the death penalty to be issued against anyone - including non-combatants - found guilty of belonging to IS.

The New York-based HRW has urged Iraqi authorities to "develop a national strategy to prioritise the prosecution of those who committed the most serious crimes".

Women suspected only of IS membership rather than any combat role are "getting the harshest possible sentences for what appears to be marriage to an ISIS (IS) member or a coerced border crossing", it said.

Many foreign widows of IS fighters have said they had been fooled or threatened by their husbands to travel to Iraq, yet the Iraqi judicial system does not take these circumstances into account.