Former ICC Prosecutor: Yezidis Can Bring ISIS to ICC Even if Iraq Not Member

AP Photo/Seivan M.Salim
AP Photo/Seivan M.Salim

Yezidis could bring the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes even if Iraq is not a member state of the tribunal, according to a former ICC chief prosecutor.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine lawyer and former ICC chief prosecutor, has proposed a novel legal argument that could allow the court to investigate the war crimes the jihadist group has committed against the Yezidis, reports Rudaw.

“Visiting the Yezidi holy site of Lalish on Tuesday, Moreno-Ocampo told media that while a potential war crimes prosecution at the ICC potentially offered a way to bring ISIS leaders to justice, this wouldn’t address all of the Yezidi victims’ needs,” notes the report.

“Victims need truth, victims need reparation, victims need justice and victims need the security that the crimes will not be repeated,” said the former ICC prosecutor.

He declared that the rescue of Yezidi women and children still being held captive should be given priority along with gathering more evidence that can be used to eventually open a case against ISIS.

“Iraq is not a member of the International Criminal Court. In lieu of it joining, under normal rules, jurisdiction to try ISIS members would be established if the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution,” points out Rudaw.

“However, Moreno-Ocampo proposed a third way by which jurisdiction could be established. He said he believes that the capture of a foreign ISIS leader from a country which is signatory to the Rome Statute would provide necessary grounds to open a war crimes prosecution,” the report reveals.

The court has agreed to intervene when crimes are committed by nationals of state parties, noted Moreno-Ocampo.

“The strategy is to identify foreigners who are leading ISIL in order to gain jurisdiction is a new strategy,” New Yorker Kerry Propper, a defender of genocide victims, explained further, according to Rudaw.

“We’re claiming that the ICC would then have legal jurisdiction,” he added. “This is a new legal argument.”

The pro-Yezidi organizations known as Yazda and the Free Yezidi Foundation reportedly organized Moreno-Ocampo’s visit.

“We will be focusing on making that connection between the leadership of ISIL, their citizenship and the systematic killing of Yezidis,” Yazda co-founder Murad Ismael told Rudaw. “If you make that link you have the legal grounds [for a case at the ICC].”

“Before any of this could happen, evidence of a standard which could be presented to a court would need to be gathered,” notes Rudaw. “The establishment of a Yezidi Truth Commission would be the most effective way to do this, Moreno-Ocampo argued. Numerous such commissions exist worldwide, including the one that was established following Rwanda’s genocide.”


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