UN report: Islamic State may be guilty of genocide, Iraq should join ICC

23 March 2015 by Karina Hof

The Islamic State (IS) is perpetuating heinous human rights violations in Iraq and members of the jihadist movement may be guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, says a UN report released last week. Its author, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, recommends Iraq join the International Criminal Court and accept its jurisdiction “over the current situation”.

At a shelter for Yazidis refugees who fled IS attacks in Iraq, Mahoubet says the jihadist movement killed her husband and kidnapped her sister and daughter (Photo: Flickr/Caroline Gluck/EU/ECHO)
Image caption: 
At a shelter for Yazidis refugees who fled IS attacks in Iraq, Mahoubet says the jihadist movement killed her husband and kidnapped her sister and daughter (Photo: Flickr/Caroline Gluck/EU/ECHO)

That situation is graphically chronicled in the 51-page document, much recalling news headlines from August concerning the slaughter of Yezidis. The ethnic minority in northern Iraq practise a syncretic religion, reportedly leading IS to call them “devil-worshippers” and massacre those who refuse conversion – their deaths now estimated “in the thousands”.

Bullet point by bullet point, the commissioner outlines “killing” and “acts that caused [Yezidis] serious bodily or mental harm”, which could be considered underlying acts for genocide – defined as the whole or partial destruction of a racial, religious or ethnic group. Occurring between June 2014 and February 2015, the incidents detail men brought to ditches and “summarily executed”, “clear patterns of sexual and gender-based violence” and young escapees’ accounts of gun and rocket training and forced viewings of filmed beheadings. One youth described being told: “You will do this when you will go to jihad for the Islamic State; you are an Islamic State boy now.”

Want to read more?

We have tailor-made memberships for students, individuals, groups of professionals and large companies and organizations. A subscription entitles you to receive the International Justice Tribune every two weeks as well as become a member of the Justice Tribune Foundation, supporting independent reporting on international justice.

Subscribe now

Related articles

article
Image from July 2013 protest in New York City against US military intervention in Syria (Photo: Flickr/fleshmanpix)
05 November 2014 by Karina Hof, The Hague (The Netherlands)

A justice mechanism to deal with the Syrian conflict has seemed low on the world’s agenda. This week brought news of US government funding cuts for a widely commended NGO gathering Syrian war crimes evidence. The Russian and Chinese vetoes of a Syria referral by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court keep a trial in The Hague unlikely. And it is hard to focus on accountability when the YouTubed horror films of ISIS have all but upstaged Assad regime atrocities and the Syrian opposition seems locked in an endless cycle of reincarnation.

 

article
Ligature used to bind victims hands in Srebrenica, unearthed during an exhumation there. (Photo: Flickr/ICTY)
19 May 2015 by Ella Sonja West, Chicago (US)

Two months ago, the Balkans were rocked by a story in The New York Times that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was set to deport 150 Bosnians who lied on their immigration applications about involvement in the 1992-1995 war. ICE policies, however, may in fact be more nuanced than suggested by the headlines. And yet they still face criticism for their one-sided approach to Balkan immigrants.

article
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. 

article
ICTY 'Wanted' posters from 2000 and 2011 after Hadzic's arrest
24 September 2014 by Sandra Milic, The Hague (The Netherlands)

For more than a month, former Croatian Serb leader Goran Hadzic has tried to convince judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that he had no actual clout during the war in Croatia and his fiery media appearances during the 1991-1995 conflict were just for show. The last ICTY fugitive to be caught in 2011, Hadzic was prime minister of the Serbian Autonomous Region of Eastern Slavonia and later president of the Republic of the Serbian Krajina.

article
24 September 2014 by Stephanie van den Berg

Last week, Belgium arrested and indicted Liberian Martina Johnson on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged participation in Operation Octopus, a brutal battle for capital city Monrovia in 1992. This is the first-ever indictment for international crimes during the country’s first civil war, lasting from 1989 to 1996. Human rights organizations say Johnson was a close confidante of former Liberian president Charles Taylor and served as a general in his National Patriotic Front for Liberia (NPFL).