U.S. Recognizes Genocide, Global Justice Center's International Law Experts Respond

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The United States determining Daesh is committing genocide is an important first step in states fulfilling their duties to prevent, suppress and punish genocide, says Global Justice Center's international law experts.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Daesh is committing genocide against ethnic minorities, including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims. This is the first genocide the US has recognized since Darfur in 2004.

“Daesh captured and enslaved thousands of Yazidi girls – selling them at auction, raping them at will, and destroying the communities in which they had lived for countless generations,” Kerry said. “The full facts must be brought to light by an independent investigation and through formal legal determination made by a competent court or tribunal…the United States will strongly support efforts to collect, document, preserve, and analyze the evidence of atrocities and we will do all we can to see that the perpetrators are held accountable.”

The Global Justice Center (GJC), a legal nonprofit focused on international humanitarian law with a gender perspective, has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Daesh crimes against the Yazidi as genocide, in particular the non-killing crimes against women that include rape, torture, and forcible marriage, impregnation, abortions. (See recent filing with ICC Prosecutor here.)

"This recognition is an important step for the US to fulfilling its leadership role and duties under the Genocide Convention," said GJC President, Janet Benshoof, "It is now time to make sure that genocide is prevented, suppressed and punished including by rescuing women and girls and supporting prosecutions at the ICC."

Secretary Kerry’s remarks come on the heels of the historic resolution passed by the European Parliament in February that Daesh is committing genocide against religious minorities.

“Global consensus is building to stop the genocide Daesh is committing,” said Benshoof. “It is now time for the US to turn this rhetoric into action and push for a referral to the International Criminal Court to hold Daesh accountable, and take immediate steps to rescue the thousands of Yazidi women and girls still enduring genocide in captivity.”

“We must do everything we can to ensure these woman and girls obtain the justice they deserve,” Benshoof said.

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Stephanie Olszewski
Global Justice Center
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