Relentless Pursuit of Justice and Accountability Continues: 9 Years Since the Yazidi Genocide
Baghdad, 03 August 2023 – On this fateful day, nine years ago, Iraq’s Yazidi community suffered one of the most horrid atrocities in modern history, in what UNITAD has found clear and convincing evidence to legally qualify it as a crime of genocide. Coming upon the 9th commemoration of the Yazidi genocide today, we reiterate our commitment to the pursuit of justice for victims and survivors, ensuring that perpetrators of such heinous crimes are held accountable, no matter where they go, or how long it takes.
“An important step in any accountability processes is the recognition of the crimes committed by ISIL for what they truly are, international crimes. What we want to see in Iraq, as well as throughout the world, is for justice systems to deal with ISIL crimes against the Yazidi community and hold the perpetrators of the genocide accountable before competent courts,” stressed Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD Christian Ritscher.
Along these lines, UNITAD welcomed the most recent conviction of an ISIL member for aiding and abetting genocide against Yazidis by a German Court. UNITAD has supported German prosecution authorities by identifying and interviewing the key witness, a Yazidi woman who was held as a slave for 3 years by the ISIL couple, Nadine K. and her husband. Special Adviser Ritscher mentioned that: “this conviction and other similar ones constitute tangible progress towards justice and bringing some comfort to the families and victims. The pieces of the puzzle are coming together, as we continue to work tirelessly to support more prosecutions for ISIL perpetrators. This is the justice we all want to see, in Iraq and throughout the world.”
Special Adviser Ritscher commended Iraqi authorities which have shown high level of commitment in advancing the Iraq-led process to enact a national legislation that allows for the prosecution of ISIL members for their international crimes in Iraq. “UNITAD has provided technical expert support for this process through the joint working group that was launched in March 2023 with representatives of the judiciary, alongside legal experts from the Prime Minister’s office, the National Permanent Committee for International Humanitarian Law, as well as the Iraqi State Council, hosted by the Supreme Judicial Council, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks and months. This is the process that will pave the way to see trials for ISIL perpetrators of the Yazidi genocide here in Iraq” he indicated.
To support these accountability efforts inside and outside of Iraq, UNITAD’s investigations into ISIL crimes against the Yazidi community continue to be one of the Team’s top priorities. Further evidence and witness testimonies are being gathered to supplement case-building efforts. Additionally, to date, 37 mass graves of Yazidi ISIL victims have been excavated with UNITAD’s support and the Team has identified over 100 Yazidi heritage sites destroyed by ISIL.
These tireless efforts can only continue thanks to the bravery and resilience of the Yazidi community as a whole, and the survivors in particular. “In light of the remarkable determination of the Yazidi survivors and community, we find ourselves deeply humbled. UNITAD is fully committed to dedicating all of its resources and efforts towards the accomplishment of this paramount common goal of accountability for ISIL crimes in Iraq as well as around the world, in close cooperation with the Yazidi community itself and the Iraqi authorities” said Special Adviser Ritscher.
The Team will continue to advocate for and support the continued Iraqi efforts towards a national legislation that would allow for the prosecution of ISIL international crimes, including the crime of genocide against the Yazidis, in Iraq; for victims to see their day in court in a way that ensures their meaningful participation in accountability processes.
For More Information please contact Public Information Officer (Maha Thaher) for the
United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL,