Iraq, September 22, 2017: The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants “that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”
Britain, which drafted the resolution, said the team would bring some justice to those who had experienced atrocities at the hands of IS, variously known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.
The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the resolution “a landmark” that would “provide an indispensable record of the scope and scale” of IS atrocities.
“This means justice for those people who have been victimized by ISIS,” Nadia Murad, a former IS captive in Iraq, said in a Facebook Live video after attending the council vote with well-known international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
Clooney represents women of Iraq’s Yazidi minority who were kidnapped and held as sex slaves by IS militants after the terrorist organization conquered large swaths of Iraq in mid-2014.
“It’s a huge milestone for all of those who’ve been fighting for justice for victims of crimes committed by ISIS,” Clooney said in the Facebook Live video. “It says to victims that their voices will be heard and they may finally get their day in court.”
Since then, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have driven IS from most of the land it had seized in Iraq, retaking all the major urban areas, although the group still controls some pockets in Iraq as well as territory in Syria.
IS fighters have been on the run in Iraq since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the Islamic State’s former stronghold capital, in July.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the August 2014 massacre in Sinjar, and U.N. rights investigations have documented horrific accounts of abuse suffered by women and girls, such as Murad. About 3,000 women are believed to remain in IS captivity.
But Human Rights Watch criticized the resolution as a missed opportunity by the council “to address war crimes and rights abuses by all sides to the conflict in Iraq.”
“No one denies the importance of tackling the widespread atrocities by ISIS in Iraq, but ignoring abuses by Iraqi and international forces is not only flawed, it’s shortsighted,” said Balkees Jarrah, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “The pursuit of justice is essential to all victims who saw their loved ones tortured and killed, or houses burned and bombed, regardless of who is responsible.” (VOA)