Amal Clooney’s work on Accountability for ISIS’ Crimes against the Yazidis
Since the spring of 2016, Amal Clooney has acted as legal counsel for Yazda, as well as for UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad and other survivors of the Yazidi genocide. As victims’ counsel, Amal is seeking to secure accountability for international crimes perpetrated by ISIS against the Yazidi community in Iraq and Syria, including genocide, mass executions, sexual enslavement and trafficking, recruitment of child soldiers and forced displacement, among other war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Advocacy before the United Nations
On behalf of the Yazidi community, Yazda and Nadia Murad, Amal has urged the United Nations to establish a UN investigation into ISIS’ crimes in Iraq.
After a year long-advocacy campaign led by Amal, the Security Council on 21 September 2017 unanimously adopted Resolution 2379 (2017) to establish an Investigative Team to collect, preserve and store evidence of ISIS’ crimes in Iraq, including those committed against the Yazidis. Crucially, the Resolution recognises that ISIS’ crimes are “part of the ideology and strategic objectives of [ISIS]” and that the establishment of the Investigative Team by the Security Council is a first step to “holding [ISIS] members accountable, particularly those who bear the greatest responsibility…”
Evidence collection and accountability before international and domestic courts
In order to bring ISIS militants to justice for crimes committed against the Yazidis, Amal and her team have assisted Yazda to gather and analyze evidence of atrocities. Ongoing efforts include interviews with witnesses and survivors, as well as the collection and preservation of documentary evidence, including photographic and video materials published online.
Further, Amal has liaised with UN bodies and NGOs to receive the material gathered by them, acting as a hub for the collection and analysis of evidence of crimes against the Yazidis and a contact point for international and domestic prosecutors. In due course, Amal and Yazda hope that the evidence they collected and analysed will also assist the work of the Investigative Team established under Resolution 2379 (2017).
Amal also works closely with national prosecutors who are identifying ISIS members for prosecution, including in Germany where an arrest warrant was issued in December 2016 against an ISIS commander allegedly responsible for genocide and other crimes against the Yazidi minority. In the US, Amal represents two Yazidi survivors in a case against Umm Sayyaf, a captured ISIS member and widow of ISIS’ former Minister of Oil and Gas, before the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.