UN endorses investigation of ISIL war crimes in Syria, Iraq

UN endorses investigation of ISIL war crimes in Syria, Iraq
Tue Sep 2, 2014 08:13:04

The UN’s top human rights body has overwhelmingly approved the Iraqi government’s request for an investigation into crimes against civilians committed by ISIL terrorist group in its rampage across northeastern Syria and parts of Iraq.

Diplomats Monday agreed by unanimous consent to approve a nearly $1.2 million UN fact-finding mission at a daylong special session of the 47-nation Human Rights Council about Iraq and the extremist group.

Iraq’s request for the UN to investigate abuses by ISIL was included in a resolution that more broadly condemns the group’s severe tactics.

Its aim is to provide the Geneva-based council with a report and evidence next March that could shed further light on ISIL atrocities and be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.

Monday’s session focused on the threat posed by the Takfiri militants, who have seized cities, towns and vast tracts of land and carried out a number of massacres and beheadings.

“We are facing a terrorist monster,” Iraq’s human rights minister, Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani, said shortly before the vote.

There is “strong evidence” ISIL and allied groups have carried out targeted killings, forced conversions, sexual abuse and torture in Iraq, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said, opening the debate in Geneva.

“The reports we have received reveal acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale,” she told the UN Human Rights Council, on its first meeting about the latest surge in violence. She later told Reuters she was referring to ISIL.

ISIL has grabbed large areas of Iraq and Syria, declaring a cross-border ‘caliphate’ and driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.

At least 1,420 people were killed in Iraq in August alone, UN figures showed Monday.

Pansieri said she was particularly worried about the persecution of Christians, Izadis, Shias, Turkmen and other ethnic groups by ISIL forces that have swept through western and northern Iraq.

“These communities have lived side by side, on the same soil, for centuries and in some cases for millennia,” she added. Such “ethnic and religious cleansing” may amount to crimes against humanity.

Sudani told the session ISIL was threatening the makeup of his country. “The land of ancient Babylon is subjected to threats starting to its very independence; they are attempting to change its demographic and cultural composition.”

Russia and its ally Syria also blamed Western and Arab states for allowing the extremists to thrive in the region.

Russia had supplied arms to counter ISIL, including Sukhoi 25 strike aircraft, Moscow’s ambassador Alexey Borodavkin said.

“[ISIL] acquired a huge potential: it now controls colossal financial resources that it has seized, is pursuing illegal oil trade and has a considerable arsenal of modern weaponry. All this could have been avoided if the international community had taken measures at the time to remove this cancer at an early stage of its formation,” Borodavkin said.

BA/BA

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