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Human rights

Panel says Islamic State committing genocide against Yazidis

A United Nations investigative panel on Syria says the Islamic State (IS) has committed genocide and other war crimes against the Yazidi community in Syria and Iraq.

In its report “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes against the Yazidis”, the UN Commission of Inquiry, which includes former Swiss prosecutor Carla del Ponte, said the genocide of the Yazidi community in Syria and Iraq is ongoing.

Commission President Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said on Thursday: “ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.”

He told reporters in Geneva: "The crime of genocide must trigger much more assertive action at the political level, including at the Security Council."

The panel of investigators’ first report focuses on IS crimes against Yazidis following the group's attack on unarmed Yazidi communities in north-western Iraq in August 2014. Many Yazidis were taken into Syria. The report says IS still holds over 3,200 Yazidi women and children.

The 41-page report cited slave markets in Syria where Yazidi women and girls, some as young as nine, are sold exclusively to IS fighters. It says IS has within the last year begun holding online slave auctions with an encrypted application to circulate photos of captured Yazidi women and girls.

It said the Islamic State was seeking to destroy the ethno-religious group of 400,000 in multiple ways, through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes. Survivors who escape describe brutal rapes, often on a daily basis, severe beatings and sometimes gang rape.

Yazidi boys over seven are forcibly removed from their mothers’ care and transferred to camps in Syria where they are indoctrinated and receive military training, the report stated.

“ISIS has made no secret of its intent to destroy the Yazidis of Sinjar and that is one of the elements that allowed us to conclude their actions amount to genocide,” said del Ponte. "Of course, we regard that as a road map for prosecution, for future prosecution."

Commission member Vitit Muntarbhorn said it had "detailed information on places, violations and names of the perpetrators", and had begun sharing information with some national authorities, who were prosecuting foreign fighters.

The commission said the international community must recognise this genocide. It repeated its call for the UN Security Council to refer urgently the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, or to establish and ad-hoc tribunal to prosecute the numerous violations of international law.

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swissinfo.ch with agencies


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