President of UN Religious Freedom Committee sees significant step in the right direction; Human rights groups ask for international law expert to head investigations
NEW YORK – On 21 September 2017, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting Iraq in prosecuting members of ISIS/Daesh for crimes committed against religious minorities in the region. The terrorist organization has been perpetrating acts of genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities. ADF International has long advocated for the prosecution of the perpetrators. In its book Never Again, the human rights organization documented the crimes of ISIS in reference to the Genocide Convention, identifying the atrocities as genocide “beyond any doubt.”
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“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” said Kelsey Zorzi, UN Counsel for ADF International based in New York City and President of the UN’s NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. “It is incredibly encouraging to see the Security Council take such a significant step towards ensuring justice for the countless victims and their families. We hope that the passage of this resolution reminds Christians in the Middle East that they have not been forgotten, that there is hope, that we will continue fighting for them, and that accountability is on its way.”
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The UN resolution establishes an Investigative Team, headed by a Special Adviser. This Team will work with the Iraqi government to collect, preserve, and store evidence of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. The creation of this team is critical in ensuring that the terrorists are prosecuted for genocide and other crimes committed against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. For the first time the Security Council has not shied away from using the term genocide.
Within the next couple of months, the UN Secretary General is expected to appoint a Special Adviser heading the investigations. Human rights experts stress the importance for the Investigative Team of collaborating not only with government organisations but also with NGOs. Further, the Special Adviser should have a firm background in international law to ensure the right categories are being used for the atrocities committed.
In her explanation of the vote on the UN Security Council Resolution 2379, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said: “It may have taken a long time to get here, but today’s resolution is a landmark. It is a major first step towards addressing the death, suffering, and injury of the victims of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq – crimes that include genocide. These victims have been Yazidis, Christians, Shia and Sunni Muslims, and many, many more.”
Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International, whose team collected evidence of the ongoing genocide against Christians in Iraq said: “For almost two years, our legal team at the UN worked towards this resolution. It will make a significant difference for Christians and other religious minorities who have suffered at the hands of ISIS. We look forward to working with the investigators in the weeks ahead.”
Find a video about Christians in Iraq here