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Members of Congress call on Tillerson, Haley to lead efforts at UN

Attorney sound bite:  Kelsey Zorzi

UNITED NATIONS – One year after former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recognized the atrocities against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide, no ISIS militant has been tried for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes, nor has the United Nations issued an official designation of genocide.

“No person or group should live in fear of being killed, tortured, or oppressed because of their religious beliefs,” said ADF International UN Counsel Kelsey Zorzi, a contributor to the ADF International publication Never Again. “Recognizing and condemning the ongoing genocide of Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities was an important first step. As a signatory to the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,’ the U.S. should act quickly to stop the genocide and prosecute the perpetrators. An entire year has passed since the designation, and the U.S. and the international community have thus far failed to act.”

In March 2016, three days before Kerry’s official recognition of genocide, Congress unanimously adopted a resolution condemning ISIS’s crimes against Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities. The same members of Congress who sponsored the resolution delivered a letter Friday to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley requesting an update on what actions the U.S. has taken since the declaration last year. The bipartisan letter also urges them to lead efforts at the U.N. to condemn the ongoing genocide and facilitate the prosecution of the perpetrators.

The letter asks the two administration officials “to press the U.N. Security Council to authorize a formal investigation into genocide and other atrocity crimes of ISIS, against the full range of victims, so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”

“The need for action is urgent…,” the letter explains. “We were encouraged by the commitment of President Donald Trump when he said this year at the National Prayer Breakfast, ‘We have seen a campaign of ISIS and genocide against Christians…. All nations have a moral obligation to speak out against such violence. All nations have a duty to work together to confront it.’ By contrast, some governments, and key entities within the United Nations, seem to have overlooked Christian victims of this genocide and the effects of this crime: Christians are at risk of being wiped away from the lands where they have lived since the first century…. You have the strong support of the Congress to ensure that ISIS perpetrators are investigated, tried, and convicted for the genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes they have committed.”

“The U.N. is apparently waiting on Iraq’s approval before it takes action, but this has been the case for over six months, and no authorization is in sight,” said Zorzi. “Victims are suffering. Evidence is being lost and destroyed. The investigation into crimes committed in Syria is mainly focused on the civil war, not ISIS. Not a single ISIS militant has even been under investigation for genocide or other international crimes. We are hopeful that the U.S. will take the lead in finally bringing ISIS to justice.”
 
ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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