Accountability for the international crimes committed by ISIS--which amount to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes--is not only important for the victims of ISIS’ crimes but it is essential to prevent the commission of these crimes in the future.
What we do:
We are trying to achieve accountability for ISIS’ crimes in four principal ways:
1. Evidence Gathering
Yazda’s Documentation Project was launched in October 2015 with the aim of documenting the genocide committed against the Yazidis. For a number of years, the documentation team has collected evidence by interviewing witnesses and survivors and documented mass graves and killing sites. The members of the team follow internationally-accepted evidence-gathering procedures and guidelines in documenting ISIS’ atrocities and are supported by a legal team to ensure adherence to such standards.
2. Advocacy for the establishment of a UN investigation into ISIS’ crimes in Iraq
On behalf of Yazda and the Yazidi community, international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has advocated for the establishment of a UN investigation into ISIS’ crimes against the Yazidis in Iraq. After a year-long advocacy campaign led by Amal, the Security Council on 21 September 2017 unanimously adopted Resolution 2379 establishing an investigative team to collect, preserve and store evidence of ISIS’ crimes in Iraq, including those committed against the Yazidis. Yazda supports and is working with the investigative team, led by Mr. Karim Khan QC.
3. Promote Accountability with National Framework
Yazda and its partners are advocating for and supporting national accountability mechanisms, by providing advice and evidence to relevant states. For instance, Yazda advocated for the U.S. Congress to pass the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018, which was signed in December 2018. And Yazda is working with Canadian lawmakers to enact a parliamentary-level resolution to hold ISIS foreign fighters to account in Canadian courts.
4. Reform of Iraqi Law
Iraqi Law currently does not recognize international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. As a result, ISIS fighters cannot be prosecuted for these crimes in Iraq, but are instead only prosecuted for terrorism offences. Yazda is working with partners and lawmakers to ensure appropriate legislation is enacted in Iraq so that perpetrators can be held to account for these crimes in Iraq.