Iraq’s non-membership in the ICC hinders efforts to recognise ISIS crimes as genocide

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, ( – Iraq’s non-membership in the International Criminal Court hinders the efforts to internationally recognise the crimes committed by the Islamic State terrorist organization, ISIS, against the civilian population in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, as genocide.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG’s Minister of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, Mahmoud Haji Salih, who is also the head of the KRG Committee on International Recognition of ISIS’s Crimes as Genocide, particularly those committed against religious and ethnic groups, reaffirmed this fact. He said, “So far Iraq is not ready to become member in ICC, therefore the legal procedures for the genocide recognition is passing through a difficult path”.

In an interview with KRG website, Minister Salih said, “The main condition for internationally trying the terrorist organization, ISIS, for genocide against Yazidi Kurds and other religious groups, is Iraq’s membership in the International Criminal Court. However, following our committee’s discussions with three Iraqi ambassadors in European countries, we got to the conclusion that Iraq is not ready to become member in ICC”.

He added that Baghdad’s stance on this issue “hinders even local efforts to set up relevant courts in Iraq or Kurdistan Region, since there is no article in the Iraqi laws that refer to genocide. The only solution is to convince the Iraqi government to treat this case individually and approve it with the International Criminal Court so that it investigates the case. For this, great deal of efforts needs to be exerted by the officials representing Kurdistan Region in the Federal Government in Baghdad”, Minister Salih told KRG website.

Following the capture of the city of Mosul and its surrounding areas in June last year, ISIS led mass-killing campaigns against the Yazidi Kurds and other religious groups living in those areas. The Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal Affairs established a centre in the city of Duhok in charge of investigating and collecting evidences of ISIS crimes. The centre has so far documented more than 300 cases, 65 of which are ready to be submitted to the International Criminal Court.

Minister Salih elaborated that the reason why Iraq is not eager to become a member at the International Criminal Court is because its membership entails great deal of responsibilities that Iraq may not be able to shoulder. He added that “if the current efforts did not succeed in recognizing the genocide against the victims of ISIS, then perhaps the UN Security Council can issue a resolution about it or a special tribunal to be established similar to the one established for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.”

He also said that the committee he heads plans to send a delegation to Baghdad to consult with the presidencies of the Republic, Parliament, Prime Minister, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Justice to further discuss this issue.

Minister Salih also criticised those parties and individuals who have been trying, for political reasons, to separate Yazidis form Kurds, speculating that the Yazidis are not Kurds but a different ethnic group.

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