FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - July 17, 2017
[NEW YORK, NY] – On the World Day for International Justice and almost three years after ISIS began a campaign of genocide against the Yazidis, the Global Justice Center renews its calls to world leaders to uphold international law and ensure justice for Yazidi women and girls.
“As successes attacks are waged against ISIS on the battlefield, it is equally important that there is justice and accountability for ISIS fighters in international courts,” says Janet Benshoof, founder and president of the Global Justice Center (GJC). “The women and girls persecuted by ISIS deserve to see their abusers held accountable for the crimes committed against them.”
“It’s important that when we have trials, that they be fair and that they serve the interests of the victims,” said Stephen Rapp, the former United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice in an interview with GJC. “Prosecuting and convicting powerful men, specifically for the crimes against people they have weakened and destroyed, is one of the ways you reverse that power relationship, and it’s extremely enabling and empowering.”
ISIS’s intent to destroy the Yazidis is clear and they been committing an admitted genocide since August 2014. They have massacred men and older women, forcibly converted and indoctrinated young boys, and enslaved young women and girls subjecting them to systematic sexual violence. While there are strong global measures aimed at stopping ISIS, such as Security Council Resolutions and counter-terrorism efforts, states have largely ignored legal obligations related to genocide in this context.
“Upholding the Genocide Convention is important not only for justice but also for the special values it protects: plurality, diversity, and tolerance,” Benshoof said. “In today’s world of increasing nationalism, suppression and prejudice, it is more important than ever for the international community to send a strong signal in upholding these values.”
GJC recently convened a brain trust of high-level experts to discuss ways in which the legal obligations to prevent, suppress and punish genocide can be reconciled with counter-terrorism measures against ISIS, while paying special attention to the gendered aspects of this genocide. The Brain Trust created recommendations to demystify the difficulties of ensuring accountability and how to tap into modern avenues of international cooperation to help achieve justice.
“I think in this situation, with the global interest in this, I think [prosecutions] will happen,” says Rapp. “But whether it happens right depends on all of us to be advocating every day to make it happen, but I am confident that the day will arrive when we will have trials of ISIS leaders for the genocide against the Yazidi. In my view, it can’t come too soon. But if we keep working at it, the day will for certain arrive.”
For more information contact: