UN Security Council Should Hold ISIS Accountable for its Crimes in Iraq
New York City—Human Rights First today called on the United Nations Security Council to approve a resolution that would aid the Iraqi government in gathering and preserving evidence of ISIS crimes committed in its territory. Yesterday Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling for the resolution. Since its rise, the terrorist organization has committed crimes against humanity in Iraq, including a genocide against the Yazidi religious minority group. Human Rights First calls on U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to work with her counterparts on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution as soon as possible.
“The Security Council has been waiting months for a signal to move forward, so this is an important step, but pressure on the Iraqi government must continue if we are to achieve justice for the victims of ISIS,” said Ameena Saeed Hasan, an Iraqi activist working to free Yazidi women and girls from ISIS captivity. “The international community needs to speak loudly and in unison to bring ISIS to justice for its crimes.”
The Yazidi population in Iraq has been the target of immense persecution at the hands of ISIS. Currently, four hundred thousand Yazidis live in camps for internally displaced people in the Kurdish region. ISIS fighters murdered much of the male Yazidi population, and sold many women and girls into sexual slavery. Over three thousand Yazidis are still believed to be in captivity. ISIS has moved most of these to Syria as the group has been driven out of territory in Iraq.
Achieving accountability for these crimes would help prevent the emergence of a new ISIS in liberated territory, and is an integral part of the global struggle to combat terrorism. Allowing the Yazidis to return to their ancestral homes on the Nineveh Plains would allow for a return to stability, and prevent a vacuum from forming in territories liberated from ISIS.
Ameena Saeed Hasan and her husband Khaleel Aldakhi received the 2016 Human Rights First Award for their efforts to rescue enslaved Yazidi women and girls from ISIS. Living near the Iraq-Syria border, they run a rescue network that brings women to safety so that they can recover from trauma. Khaleel, a lawyer, and Ameena, a former member of parliament, risk their lives to save these women and girls—a project they have made their life’s work.
The U.S. government has played a positive role in persuading the Iraqi government to provide consent for an international investigation into ISIS crimes. The United States has a moral obligation to ensure cooperation between the United Nations and the Iraqi authorities, so that investigations into ISIS crimes and prosecutions of those responsible proceed as smoothly and expeditiously as possible. In addition, Human Rights First urges the U.S. government to continue humanitarian assistance to the displaced Yazidis and others in camps in Iraq, as well as support for the provision of health and psycho-social services to the recovering former ISIS captives. In some cases, Yazidis and other vulnerable displaced people in Iraq require resettlement as refugees.
Human Rights First calls on the U.S. government to continue playing a leading role in resettling refugees from Iraq, to work with the Iraqi authorities to restore security to the territories liberated from ISIS, and to ensure that the rights of minority Yazidi, Christian, and other communities are fully protected.