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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Yazidi women deserve to see real justice delivered

Complicity in ISIS’s reign of enslavement and abuse must be punished if proven

ISIS kidnap survivor Nadia Murad, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. Stephanie Lecocq / EPA
ISIS kidnap survivor Nadia Murad, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize. Stephanie Lecocq / EPA

The plight of the Yazidi women has been well-documented: abducted by ISIS extremists, thousands were traded as slaves and chattels during the height of the so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

While most were released from captivity, the majority are unlikely to see their captors punished.

So the chance of finally getting some answers and having their day in court will come as some small but welcome relief.

Represented by Amal Clooney, a group of Yazidi women will be taking on one of the world’s largest cement companies for allegedly paying millions to ISIS to be allowed to continue operations at its factory in northern Syria.

They are bringing a civil action in a criminal case against the French-Swiss multinational firm and its executives for crimes against humanity and financing a terrorist organisation. Ms Clooney said it would allow them to “have their voices heard in a court of law”.

If proven guilty, it is difficult to imagine how executives at the company might have thought it morally acceptable to bribe ISIS for no better reason than to keep their business ticking over – a decision that allegedly helped fund extremists behind the capture, deaths and persecution of tens of thousands of victims.

According to French prosecutors, between 2011 and 2014, senior executives at LafargeHolcim paid ISIS and other armed groups in Syria protection money to let its Jalabiya plant continue operating.

For the sake of justice, it is vital the Yazidi women have a chance of accountability – if not from their tormentors, then from those who were allegedly complicit in their crimes.

Only then will those responsible comprehend the full impact of such a departure from the norms of human decency.

The world knows the story of one brave Yazidi, Nadia Murad, who was held as a sex slave and after speaking out about what she and others had suffered, won the Nobel Peace Prize this year for her courage.

Many have felt too stigmatised by their experiences to speak to about them. It is those who caused their suffering who should be publicly shamed.