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Human rights groups ask for international law expert to head investigations

Friday, September 22, 2017

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution Thursday 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 under the Genocide Convention, identifying the atrocities as genocide “beyond any doubt.”

“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith,” said ADF International U.N. Counsel Kelsey Zorzi, who is also president of the UN’s Non-Governmental Organization 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 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.”

The U.N. resolution establishes an investigative team, headed by a special adviser. The team will work with the Iraqi government to collect, preserve, and store evidence of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq. The creation of the team is critical in ensuring that terrorists are prosecuted for genocide and other crimes against religious minorities. For the first time, the Security Council did not shy away from using the term “genocide.”

Within the next couple of months, the U.N. secretary general is expected to appoint a special adviser heading the investigations. Human rights experts stress the importance for the investigative team to collaborate not only with government organizations 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 U.N. Security Council Resolution 2379, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. 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.”

“For almost two years, our legal team at the UN worked towards this resolution,” said ADF International Executive Director Paul Coleman, whose team collected evidence of the ongoing genocide against Christians in Iraq. “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.”

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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