UN Report Indicates ISIS Committed Genocide in Iraq

The Baharka camp, 5km north of Erbil in northern Iraq, is home to thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) following the takeover of large swathes of the country by ISIL. Photo: UN, Emma Beals/IRIN

The Baharka camp, 5km north of Erbil in northern Iraq, is home to thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) following the takeover of large swathes of the country by ISIL. Photo: UN, Emma Beals/IRIN

A report released Thursday by the United Nations human rights office says that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) may have committed genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in its attacks against ethnic and religious groups in Iraq.

Compiled by investigators sent to the region last year by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the report highlights violations, including killings, torture, rape and sexual slavery, forced religious conversions and the conscription of children.

ISIL’s attacks on the Yezidi population “pointed to the intent of ISIL to destroy the Yezidi as a group,” the report says, which “strongly suggests” that ISIL may have perpetrated genocide.

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The report also highlights violations carried out by the Iraqi Security Forces and associated militia groups, including killings, torture and abductions, with some incidents pointing, at the very least, to a failure by the Government to protect persons under its jurisdiction.

More than 100 people who witnessed or survived attacks in Iraq between June 2014 and February 2015 helped the investigation team compile its report, which cites brutal and targeted killings of hundreds of Yezidi men and boys in the Ninewa plains in August 2014.

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The report urges the Government to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and ensure that international crimes defined in that Statute are criminalised under domestic law.

It also calls on the Human Rights Council to urge the UN Security Council to address, “in the strongest terms, information that points to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes,” and to consider referring the situation in Iraq to the International Criminal Court.

This article is part of our RMN editorial section Wars and Conflicts that carries related news and views from all parts of the world.

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