Simona Foltyn is an independent journalist based in Dubai, covering East Africa and the Middle East. With support from the Pulitzer center, she traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, to report on the justice process for alleged ISIS members. The terror group was declared defeated in December 2017, but thousands of ISIS suspects are being tried under the country’s counterterrorism laws. Foltyn wanted to find out whether these trials had the potential to bring about justice and closure after one of the darkest chapters in Iraq’s history. She attended trials at the central criminal court and spoke to judges, lawyers, prosecutors and families of ISIS suspects.
Foltyn concludes: “The objective of the project isn’t to determine whether the suspects who feature in my story are in fact guilty—but rather to highlight how this flawed process is further deepening divides in Iraq’s society. It has perpetuated the sense of injustice and oppression among the Sunni community, which is what laid fertile ground for ISIS in the first place. But at the same time, the justice process doesn’t really allow for meaningful victim participation to give victims of ISIS a sense of closure, a sense that justice has indeed been served. So instead of mending the divisions in Iraq’s society and paving the way for reconciliation, the trials of ISIS suspects risk further fueling this cycle of revenge and hatred that has been eating away at Iraq’s social fabric for many years.”