United Nations: Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney said Tuesday she is requesting the transfer of a female member of the Daesh extremist group to face justice for crimes against women from Iraq’s Yazidi minority and American hostage Kayla Mueller, who was killed in 2015.
Clooney represents Yazidi women and girls who were held in the house of Umm Sayyaf, the wife of Daesh financier Abu Sayyaf. Mueller, a humanitarian aid worker, was also held there for a time.
Clooney, the wife of actor George Clooney, told a UN Security Council meeting on sexual violence in conflict that the Yazidis were raped by Daesh men and that Mueller “was held in brutal conditions for over 18 months and raped repeatedly” by the militant group’s leader, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
“Umm Sayyaf showed no solidarity with her fellow females: She locked them in a room, instigated their beatings and put makeup on them to ‘prepare’ them for rape,” Clooney said. “I am requesting her transfer to the US to face justice for those crimes.”
She did not say where Umm Sayyaf was being held, nor whether she was also representing Mueller’s family.
Mueller’s death was reported in February 2015 and US intelligence officials told her family four months later that she was repeatedly forced to have sex with Al Baghdadi.
“They told us that he married her, and we all understand what that means,” Carl Mueller, Kayla’s father, told The Associated Press on Aug. 15, 2015, which would have been his daughter’s 27th birthday.
The Muellers said they were told by American officials that during his lengthy American interrogation in Iraq, Umm Sayyaf confirmed that Al Baghdadi had “owned” Kayla.
Umm Sayyaf was turned over to the Iraqi Kurds for trial. Abu Sayyaf was killed in a Delta Force raid on his Syrian compound in June 2015, which resulted in a treasure trove of intelligence about Daesh.
Mueller, from Prescott, Arizona, was taken hostage with her boyfriend, Omar Al Khani, in August 2013 after leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria, where he had been hired to fix the internet service for the hospital. Al Khani was released after two months, having been beaten.
Daesh claimed Mueller was killed by a Jordanian air strike near Raqqa, the group’s then self-declared capital in Syria. US officials confirmed the death but not the circumstances.
Clooney said the Kurdish regional government in Iraq has appealed for an international tribunal to prosecute foreign fighters.
She told the Security Council there were four options members should consider to prosecute Daesh perpetrators:
- Refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, which she called difficult because of US and Russian opposition.
- Have “likeminded” countries that believe in justice set up a court by treaty.
- Ask the European Union to establish a court
- Have Iraq enter into a treaty with the UN to establish a hybrid court like the joint UN tribunals set up to prosecute crimes in Sierra Leone and Cambodia.