Iraq condemns Turkish women

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

The source told AFP that the women, all accompanied by small children in the court, had surrendered to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters after having fled Tal Afar, one of the last ISIS bastions to fall to Iraqi security forces last year. The women told the court they had entered the country to join their husbands fighting for ISIS in the “caliphate” which the group declared in 2014 in territory straddling Iraq and Syria.

Iraq in February 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) has condemned as “unfair”.

Experts estimate that a total of 20,000 people are being held in jail in Iraq for alleged membership of ISIS. There is no official figure. Iraq has detained at least 560 women, as well as 600 children, identified as jihadist or relatives of suspected ISIS fighters.

Separately, authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan said in early February they had detained some 4,000 suspected ISIS members, including foreigners. Iraq’s anti-terrorism law empowers courts to convict people who are believed to have helped ISIS 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 ISIS. The New York-based HRW has urged Iraqi authorities to “develop a national strategy to prioritize the prosecution of those who committed the most serious crimes”.

Women suspected only of ISIS membership rather than any combat role are “getting the harshest possible sentences for what appears to be married to an ISIS member or a coerced border crossing,” it said, liquor stores.