Campaign launched to bring Islamic State militants before courts

Campaign launched to bring Islamic State militants before courts
3 min read
20 September, 2016
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson urged governments worldwide to help collect evidence of crimes committed by the IS group.
Amal Clooney is among those fighting for justice for the Yazidi community [Anadolu]

A campaign has been launched to ensure Islamic State group fighters are held to account for their atrocities.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have unveiled a plan to begin collecting evidence of IS crimes, particularly its assault on the Yazidi community.

At a UN meeting on Monday, also attended by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the pair urged governments and NGOs worldwide to join the initiative.

"We are compelled to do this by our duty to those who have suffered so much. We are uniting to fight IS and I believe we should unite to bring them to justice," Johnson said.

So far more than 5,000 Yazidis have been killed and more than 3,000 women and children remain enslaved.

Clooney is set to act as counsel for the Yazidi people at the International Criminal Court (ICC), where she plans to seek accountability by IS for the genocide, rape, enslavement and the trafficking of women and girls.

If we don't act on genocide, what is it that will make us act? If we don't prosecute IS then which group are we willing to hold to account? If the Security Council won't step in then who will?

She said on Monday: "The UN has acknowledged this is genocide. States have an obligation under the Genocide Convention to punish this, but so far, more than two years after the genocide began, there has not been a single member of IS held to account in any court in the world.

"If we don't act on genocide, what is it that will make us act? If we don't prosecute IS then which group are we willing to hold to account? If the Security Council won't step in then who will?"

 
The British foreign office released this video of Johnson speaking at the event,
using the Arabic acronym ['Daesh'] for the Islamic State group

She urged the Security Council to send a team of investigators to gather evidence, including visiting 55 mass graves which lay unprotected and unexhumed, and to share their findings with the International Criminal Court.

Johnson added: "As a crucial first step we envisage calling in the UN to begin the vital gathering and preserving of the evidence of IS crimes and for as many governments as possible to show their support.

"Those who have survived IS atrocities, and those who represent them, must also be at the heart of this enterprise."

Read also: Comment: Taking IS to the International Criminal Court

The Fight Against Impunity event was also attended by IS survivor and human rights activist Nadia Murad.

Jaafari also addressed the meeting, requesting help from the international community to "redouble efforts and act in solidarity".

"We have to capture the gangsters of IS and judge them before courts of law" he said.

"We have to be able to gather evidence and prevent the tampering of evidence. We also have foreign terrorists that need to be captured by their respective governments and punished."