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Set up court to prosecute ISIS for genocide, human rights advocates urge

Syria
A member of the Syrian Arab-Kurdish forces places a cross in the rubble ahead of a Christmas celebration at the heavily-damaged Armenian Catholic Church of the Martyrs in the city centre of the eastern Syrian city of Raqa on December 26, 2017 following a mine clarence operation at the site a few days earlier. A US-backed offensive ousted the Islamic State group from Raqa in October but the city has been left ravaged by fighting, and only a small percentage of its pre-war population has returned as the year draws to a close. |

After the war against Islamic State, its members should be tried like the Nazis at Nuremberg, human rights advocates of many nations urge.

After the defeat in battle of Islamic State (also known as ISIS), the Kurd-controlled Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria holds prisoner 10,400 foreign ISIS fighters, said AANES senior official Bedran Ciya Kurd during a Universal Rights virtual event Wednesday. Most nations won’t take them back. As of yet, no international court exists in which to try them.

“We partnered with the U.S.-led local coalition to defeat ISIS, which cost us more than 11,000 martyrs and thousands of agents,” Kurd said. “ISIS targeted Yazidis, Christians, Arabs and Kurds and committed horrific atrocities, including the sexual enslavement of women and children. We have long called for setting up international tribunals or hybrid-domestic international tribunals, such as the Nuremberg Tribunal in the regions of the AA of North and East Syria, to hold the perpetrators accountable for the crimes they have committed and ensure the victims receive justice.”

The crimes of IS stretch far beyond mere terrorism, justice advocates said. The group committed genocide against such groups as Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims, as well as mass rape, and sold women into prostitution to fund its conquest.

The youngest known girl held as a sex slave by the terrorist group was five years old, said Waldemar Cislo, the director of the Polish section of the Catholic Aid to the Church in Need foundation. The group auctioned women into sex slavery for as little as $30. Many women committed suicide after they were freed rather than return to their families humiliated.

IS destroyed the livelihoods of people, tortured and murdered men, and children were crucified before their parents, justice advocates said.

“Unlike most who have perpetrated these atrocities in the past, ISIS actually publicized and celebrated its violence as a fulfillment of its ideological mission,” said Nadine Maenza, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Cislo added that because of the destruction caused by IS, families in Syria earn so little money that they cannot provide for their own needs.

The U.S. led the way in prosecuting IS, bringing back 28 American citizen IS fighters to stand trial for their crimes, said U.S. Office of Global Criminal Justice Ambassador-at-Large Morse H. Tan.

“It is time that countries brought back and prosecuted their citizens fighting for ISIS. It is time that ISIS perpetrators were held to account,” Tan said.

As of yet, no international body to try IS fighters for their crimes exists. The Kurdish AANES government has attempted to set up an international justice body, but as of yet international support has not rallied behind it.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created in part in response to the Holocaust,” Tan said. “In some parts of the world today, humanity seems to be moving backward toward violence and darkness.”

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