Amal Clooney ensures justice for Yazidi girl, 14, raped while an ISIS slave, with successful prosecution of jihadi bride who oversaw victim’s abuse
- Clooney represented one of three victims in trial against ISIS bride in Dusseldorf
- Her client was 1 of 7 Yazidi girls enslaved by defendant named only as Sarah O.
- Sarah O., 23, who holds Algerian nationality, married ISIS fighter in Syria in 2013
- She beat the Yazidi slaves and helped to ‘prepare them’ for rape by her husband
Clooney was representing the woman as one of three victims of an ISIS bride named only as Sarah O, who was jailed for six-and-a-half years in Dusseldorf on Wednesday.
The 23-year-old, who holds Algerian nationality, travelled to Syria as a teenager in 2013 where she married a German-Turkish national named only as Ismail S., who remains at large.
From 2015, the couple started enslaving Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped by marauding ISIS fighters and sold throughout the ‘caliphate.’
The Yazidi ethnic group, who are mostly based in Iraq, faced genocidal persecution by Islamic State which claims they are a race of ‘devil worshippers.’
Amal Clooney is pictured at the United Nations Security Council during a meeting about sexual violence in conflict in New York in April, 2019
Over two years, Sarah O. and Ismail S. enslaved seven Yazidi women, some of whom were sold onto others, while another, a 14-year-old girl, died in captivity.
Sarah O. beat the prisoners and helped her husband sexually abuse at least two of the victims, helping to ‘prepare them’ for rape.
She also forced the Yazidis to carry out slave labour at her house.
The couple were arrested in Turkey in February 2018. After seven months in custody, Sarah O. was deported to Germany and her trial began in October 2019.
The proceedings were closed to the public because she was a teenager when some of the events took place. In accordance with German law, her full name has not been released either.
The victim represented by Clooney, along with her German colleagues, Natalie von Wistinghausen and Sonka Mehner, was present in Dusseldorf on Wednesday when judges announced the verdict.
Following the judgment, the victim said: ‘No conviction can make up for our suffering, but I am immensely grateful to the German Federal Prosecutors and the German court for investigating and shedding light on the crimes committed against the Yazidis and I hope that many more countries will follow this good example.’
Sarah O. was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organisation, assault, deprivation of liberty, aiding and abetting rape, enslavement and religious and gender-based persecution as crimes against humanity.
Clooney’s German colleague Sonka Mehner said: ‘Thanks to the victims, the full extent of the defendant’s criminal conduct could be established.’
George Clooney and his wife Amal Clooney attend the ‘Money Monster’ premiere during the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in 2016
The other German attorney representing the Yazidi woman, Natalie von Wistinghausen, added that ‘for the first time ever, a court handed down a conviction for religious and gender-based persecution and this recognition is of utmost importance for our client and for all Yazidi women, for their religious community as a whole, as well as for other victims of gender-based violence.’
Clooney, the 43-year-old wife of Hollywood actor George, is a barrister who specialises in international criminal and human rights law.
She was called to the London Bar in 2010 after being called in New York in 2002.
Fluent in French and Arabic, she has worked in The Hague including at the International Court of Justice.
In addition to her legal work, she served as a senior adviser to Kofi Annan when he was the UN’s Envoy on Syria.