FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — April 7, 2017
[NEW YORK, NY] - Today marks the 23rd Anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide when 80% of the Tutsi population in Rwanda was exterminated. Over the course of 100 days, up to a half million Tutsi women were raped, sexually mutilated or murdered. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda handed down the first conviction for the use of rape as an act of genocide.
Since then, genocide and ethnic cleansing continue to occurr around the world, including in places like Iraq, Syria, Burundi and Sudan. Since 2014, ISIS has been targeting the Yazidi, a minority ethnic community in Iraq and Syria, for genocide. Their crimes include mass killing of Yazidi men, and the kidnapping, forcible transfer and enslavement of Yazidi women and children and institutionalizing sexual violence, including by forced pregnancy and forced abortion. In Burundi, a country at risk of genocide, a recent video emerged of pro-government youth militia singing about “impregnating” the opposition.
“In the case of ISIS, it is long past time for the international community to act on its obligations under the UN Genocide Convention to prevent, suppress and punish genocide,” says Janet Benshoof, Global Justice Center President. “These crimes have been going on for almost three years and there has been no accountability for the genocide. Evidence is languishing, women remain in captivity and the Iraqi government is delaying justice. It is an insult to the victims and the rule of law.”
The United States, UN and other international bodies have recognized that genocide is occurring but have taken limited steps to ending this genocide or hold the perpetrators accountable. Over 3,200 Yazidi women and children remain in captivity and are daily subjected to genocidal acts.
“There are strong international precedents on prosecuting genocide, including for rape as an act of genocide in Rwanda, that must be upheld,” says Benshoof. “Genocide prosecutions are enormously important to deter and delegitimize ISIS atrocities. The perpetrators of these atrocities should not be killed in counter-terrorism measures or only held accountable for terrorism crimes, they should be seen in court being held accountable for the full scope of the crimes they committed—including genocide.”
For more information contact: