UN: Islamic State may have committed genocide, war crimes

UN: Islamic State may have committed genocide, war crimes

[JURIST] The actions of the Islamic State (IS) [JURIST backgrounder] in Iraq may amount to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] reported [press release] Thursday. The report cites the killings of hundreds of Yezidi men and boys in the Ninewa plains last August. The men over 14 were allegedly separated from the women and shot, while the women and girls were abducted and later sold, raped or presented as “gifts” to IS militants. Boys younger than 14 were taken and forced to convert and join IS. Other ethnic groups including Christians, Kaka’e, Kurds, Sabea-Mandeans, Shi’a and Turkmen were targeted as well. The report states, “While more information is needed on the link between the militia and the [Iraq] Government, some incidents addressed in the report point, at the very least, to a failure on part of the Government to exercise due diligence as regards its obligation to protect persons under its jurisdiction.” The report urges the Iraq government to become a party to the Rome Statute [text, PDF] of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to ensure that the international crimes defined in that Statute become criminalized under Iraq law, and to acknowledge ICC jurisdiction over the situation in the meantime.

IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. Last month the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights jointly released a report [JURIST report] detailing violations against Iraqi civilians under the spread of IS. Also in February IS led suicide bombings in eastern Libya, killing at least 40 people [JURIST report] and injuring 70 more. IS said this was the group’s way of retaliating against Egyptian airstrikes protesting the IS presence in Northern Africa. In December the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [official website] reported that the IS executed [JURIST report] 1,878 people in Syria between June and December. February’s suicide bombings indicate that the number of executions continues to increase. That month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] the groups beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Syria. The Chief Prosecutor for the ICC stated in November that the ICC is contemplating bringing war crimes charges against IS jihadist fighters.