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'Clear and convincing evidence' Daesh crimes constitute genocide, says UN team

Women burn incense in a procession during a mass funeral for Yazidi victims of the Islamic State (IS) group in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district, on February 6, 2021 [ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images]
Women burn incense in a procession during a mass funeral for Yazidi victims of the Islamic State (IS) group in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district, on February 6, 2021 [ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP via Getty Images]

A UN team investigating Daesh in Iraq has found "clear and convincing evidence that the crimes against the Yazidi people by the terrorist group clearly constituted genocide," Reuters reported the head of the inquiry saying yesterday.

Karim Khan told the UN Security Council that the team, which started work in 2018, had also identified perpetrators "that clearly have responsibility for the crime of genocide against the Yazidi community."

Khan, a British lawyer who is expected to replace Fatou Bensouda in July as the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said the intent of Daesh "to destroy the Yazidi, physically and biologically, was manifest in the ultimatum that was repeated in so many different villages in Iraq – to convert or die."

In 2014 Daesh overran the Yazidi heartland in northern Iraq, allegedly forcing young women into servitude as "wives" for fighters, massacring thousands of people, and displacing most of the 550,000-strong community. In 2016 an independent UN commission of inquiry described it as genocide.

READ: 100 Yazidi Daesh survivors to join police force

The conclusion of the UN investigating team is the latest chapter in the ongoing campaign led by Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi woman who was enslaved and raped by Daesh soldiers, and human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Both lobbied the Security Council, which then created the UN investigative team in 2017. They also pushed for the council to refer the situation to the ICC or create a special court.

"Evidence has been found, but we are still searching for the political will to prosecute," Murad, who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war, told the Security Council yesterday.

The UN team has so far identified 1,444 possible perpetrators of attacks against the Yazidis.

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ICCInternational OrganisationsIraqMiddle EastNewsSyriaUN
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