The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic has today released a report establishing that the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is committing genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Yazidis. The report entitled They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis focuses on violations committed against Yazidis inside Syria, where thousands of women and girls are still being held captive and abused, often as slaves.
Genocide has occurred and is ongoing, emphasised Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission. ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities. ISIS sought and continues to seek to destroy the Yazidis in multiple ways, as envisaged by the 1948 Genocide Convention. ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community, the report says.
Mr. Pinheiro stressed that there must be no impunity for crimes of this nature, recalling States obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent and to punish genocide. The Commission repeated its call for the Security Council to refer urgently the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, or to establish an ad hoc tribunal to prosecute the myriad of violations of international law committed during the non-international armed conflict. The Commission further noted that, with no path to international criminal justice available, it is likely that the first such prosecution of ISIS crimes against the Yazidis will take place in a domestic jurisdiction. It is essential, the Commission stated, that States enact laws against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic was established on 22 August 2011 by the Human Rights Council with a mandate to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic. The Commission was also tasked to establish the facts and circumstances that may amount to such violations and of the crimes perpetrated and, where possible, to identify those responsible with a view of ensuring that perpetrators of violations, including those that may constitute crimes against humanity, are held accountable. The Commission comprises Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, Ms. Carla Del Ponte, and Mr. Vitit Muntarbhorn.