24 April, 2016

House of Commons - Daesh and Genocide

It has taken a long to come but on 20th April the House of Commons resolved by 278 votes to zero that:

"That this House believes that Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering genocide at the hands of Daesh; and calls on the Government to make an immediate referral to the UN Security Council with a view to conferring jurisdiction upon the International Criminal Court so that perpetrators can be brought to justice."

In February, the European Parliament passed a similar resolution.

The British government,
out of respect for the will of the House, should make that reference.  In any event, whatever the decision of a court as to whether genocide applies, there can be no doubt that Daesh has committed Crimes against Humanity as defined by Article 7 of the Rome Statute.

Read the full House of Commons debate of 20th April 2016.

Genocide Convention:

In December 1948, the United Nations adopted a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide and it came into force on 12th January 1951.  Under the Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The UN Security Council is empowered to refer cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by Article 13 of the Rome Statute.

There is a good discussion at Oxford University Press of Genocide and International Law -Professor Robert Cryer - Professor of International and Criminal Law, University of Birmingham

Genocide in English Law:

See Part 5 of the International Criminal Court Act 2001


The Guardian 20th April 2016 - MPs unanimously declare Yazidis and Christians victims of ISIS genocide

Lord David Alton - Genocide: Parliament has spoken .... 

Yazidi Truth - It has been estimated that 23 million Yezidis have been killed by Moslems and their other self-proclaimed enemies during the past 700 years.  And the Yezidi population continues to decrease.  Just 200 years ago was 2 million, but it is now estimated to be less than one million worldwide. 

The Guardian 11th August 2011 - Who are the Yazidis and why is ISIS hunting them


A modern example of Genocide occurring was in Rwanda in 1994.  The Rwandan genocide was exceptional in its brutality, in its speed, and in the meticulous organization with which Hutu extremists set out to destroy the Tutsi minority.  A significant number of perpetrators of the genocide, including former high-level government officials and other key figures behind the massacres, were brought to justice. The majority were tried in Rwandan courts. Others came before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or domestic courts in Europe and North America.  The ICTR's mandate ended on 30th December 2015 but there is this legacy website.  I wrote about the conviction of Callixte Nzabonimana in June 2012.  His sentence of life imprisonment was upheld by the ICTR on 29th September 2014.

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