Yazda welcomes the introduction in the US Congress of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act and is deeply grateful to Congressman Chris Smith and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo for for sponsoring this measure.
The Act would, among other things, allow the US Government to provide assistance to NGOs that are delivering humanitarian support to members of religious and ethnic minorities targeted by ISIS or that are conducting criminal investigations and evidence collection in relation to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. Yazda, as a non-profit organization committed to delivering humanitarian assistance to the Yazidi community and documenting the atrocities committed against it by ISIS, can only welcome these proposals.
As Yazda’s counsel Amal Clooney has previously stressed, “ISIS is a bureaucracy of evil leaving a trail of evidence behind it that no one is picking up”. Over 50 mass graves discovered in liberated areas lie unexhumed, documentation left behind by ISIS is not being collected and there is no systematic effort to interview witnesses and survivors.
Yazda’s documentation and evidence collection work tries to fill this gap and prevent further evidence being lost. Many other NGOs are attempting to do the same by collecting, preserving and analysing evidence in accordance with internationally-recognized standards. These efforts should be encouraged and supported, as provided by the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act.
Yazda also notes that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring accountability for the crimes committed by ISIS as an unprecedented global threat to international peace and security lies with the United Nations. It has therefore welcomed the establishment by the General Assembly of the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) for Syria and it supports the United Kingdom’s initiative to have the UN Security Council set up an investigation into ISIS’ crimes in Iraq.
Yazda calls on the US Congress to demonstrate its commitment to bringing ISIS to justice by promptly passing the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act and by extending its support to the IIIM for Syria and the investigative mechanism to be established by the Security Council in relation to crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq.