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Mass grave west of Shingal town, Kurdistan, Iraq (Photo: Flickr/Seth Franzman)
21 September 2016 by Janet H. Anderson

Just days ago Yazidi Nadia Murad who survived an attack by the so-called Islamic State (IS also known as ISIS) on the Yazidi community of northern Iraq and Amal Clooney, her lawyer, spoke to the UN about the need for justice for the Yazidis, forced out of their ancient homelands around Mount Sinjar.

Murad – who has just been appointed the UN’s goodwill ambassador on human trafficking – described how her family were killed in massacres conducted by ISIS during 2014, how she and other Yazidi women suffered when captured and held by ISIS fighters and how more than 2,000 Yazidi women are still being held captive. Clooney called on the UN to support calls for a genocide prosecution against the perpetrators at the International Criminal Court. Evidence – mainly refugee statements – has been sent to The Hague by Murad’s own organization Yazda, supported by former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo. These efforts are part of the “It's On U” campaign using interlocking strategies aimed at an ICC prosecution of ISIS for genocide.

Janet Anderson spoke to Joanna Frivet, British-based barrister, who has travelled to the region and refugee camps where Yazidis are now living, to gather evidence for a potential prosecution. 

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KLA memorial in Mitrovica, Kosovo (Photo: Joost van Egmond)
15 September 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

In their first ever press conference since taking office the registrar and the prosecutor of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers, a special court set up in the Hague to try crimes allegedly committed by Kosovo Albanian guerilla fighters during and after the 1998-99 conflict were at pains to stress their independence and avoided giving a clear time table for when to expect indictments.

Specialist Prosecutor David Schwendiman, a former international prosecutor in the Bosnian state court's war crimes department, insisted he would do his job “without fear or favour” and would base decision “solely on the facts” regardless of “political, diplomatic or other implications or consequences”. The court is controversial in Kosovo where many see the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as freedom fighters who fought a just war against Belgrade's oppressive regime in the then Serb province. Pristina feels unfairly singled out for an extra court after already having several KLA commanders on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where all but one were acquitted [IJT-164].

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Laywer Stephan Bourgon at the opening of Bosco Ntaganda's trial in September 2015 (Photo: Twitter/ ICC-CPI)
09 September 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg

Former Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) has gone on hunger strike to protest long-standing restrictions on his phone calls and visitors to the detention unit, his lawyer said Friday.

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 Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at the opening of his trial (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
08 September 2016 by Janet H. Anderson, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Amid much fanfare jihadist Ahmed Al Faqi Al Mahdi, in August became the first Malian to stand trial at The Hague-based ICC. Because he pled guilty, there wasn’t much of a procedure, lasting a bare three days. The judges will announce their decision later this month on whether he can indeed be found guilty of destroying a range of cultural monuments in the dusty, far northern city of Timbuktu, during the period when two Islamic groups, Ansareddine and al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) occupied the town and much of the north of the country.

His confession raises the prospect of those most responsible for serious crimes in Mali being brought to justice if he continues to cooperate with ICC prosecutors. However, away from The Hague, experts suggest that further prosecutions of for crimes during Mali's resurgent 2012 conflict in the country itself are far off.

 

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Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yazidi woman who escaped sexual enslavement by Islamic State, bows her head after telling her story during a UN Security Council meeting (Photo: Flickr/UN Photo/Amanda Voisard)
21 July 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

After a United Nations Inquiry commission found last month that the crimes of Islamic State (IS also known as ISIS) against the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq amounted to genocide the call for accountability and prosecution of the perpetrators increased. What are the options to see anyone in the dock for not only genocide but also the underlying war crimes and crimes against humanity the commission said have occurred? International Justice Tribune spoke to former US ambassador for war crimes Stephen Rapp [IJT-186] who plays a central role in advising all stakeholders inside and outside on how to move forward and find justice for crimes against the Yazidi.

 

 

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