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Global efforts focus on prosecution to end rape in war

By Rudaw 19/6/2017
ISIS survivor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad returned to home village of Kocho earlier this month. Photo: Chris Johannes/Rudaw
ISIS survivor and UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad returned to home village of Kocho earlier this month. Photo: Chris Johannes/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Whether it has been Congolese soldiers raping women in Minova, Nigeria’s lost girls who were kidnapped and forcedly disappeared by Boko Haram, or ISIS’ abduction and sex trade of Yezidi women from Shingal, the rape of non-combatant women remains a by-product of war. The process in bringing ISIS to justice particularly in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region has become a test for local and international officials.

“When survivors have the chance to tell their stories, to observe the sentencing of offenders, and to benefit from solidarity and support, it can counteract isolation and self-blame. It tells the community that what happened was not the victim’s fault,” said Jan Kubis, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General of Iraq.

On Monday, the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the UN announced the 2017 theme of ‘Preventing Sexual Violence Crimes through Justice and Deterrence.’

“I urge the Government of Iraq to deliver justice, and hold perpetrators accountable. This includes restorative and reparative justice, which is what the survivors of sexual violence and their families want,” Kubis said.

The #EndRapeinWar was a trending hashtag on Twitter on Monday.

“Prosecution is a form of prevention as it can restrain the behavior of belligerents, deter future crimes, and break the vicious cycle of violence, impunity and revenge,” Kubis added on Monday.

Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced on June 12 they will open a special judicial body to investigate the terrorist crimes committed against Yezidis.

The court will be located in Baaj in Nineveh province, a town about 30km southwest of Shingal that was retaken by Hashd al-Shaabi.

Adama Dieng, the UN’s Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, has heard Yezidis from Shingal like Nadia Murad and Lamiji Bashar tell their stories of being raped by ISIS members.

"Even today, after what I've seen, after what I've seen, I'm still moved,” Dieng, who has held his post since 2012, told Rudaw English earlier this month after a conference in Brussels entitled 'Post-ISIS Ninewa: The European Response.'

He added that that he intends to travel to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in the near future to help further efforts towards justice.

“I strongly support the initiative taken by the members of the European Parliament namely Ana Gomes and Elmar Brok to try to mobilize the European Union in regard to the accountable against ISIS.”

Vian Dakhil, the only female Yezidi representative in the Iraqi parliament, is particularly concerned about the proposed location for Iraq’s planned court. “We all know that many people in Baaj were with ISIS,” she told Rudaw.

“A Yezidi individual cannot go from here in the displaced camps from Shingal to Baaj to file their complaint against an ISIS member,” she added.

A court in the Kurdistan Region announced on Monday at least 800 ISIS suspects are being detained in Duhok; 320 of those have already received sentences by a judge. Their sentences range from five years in prison to capital punishment; however, these are criminal courts.

Special tribunals for specific instances of genocide are being discussed by Kurdish officials; however, access to the crime scenes for investigators was limited by ISIS’ presence in Shingal.

The area is now split along political lines with Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries controlling some of the southern areas like Murad’s hometown of Kocho and Kurdish or Yezidi forces controlling northern areas.

Kurdish Peshmerga have been at the forefront in the war against ISIS with intelligence apparatus assisting in finding and securing rescues for many enslaved Yezidi and Kurdish women who were bought and sold between ISIS men.

A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) headed to Greece on Monday to attend a three-day conference on human trafficking.

“As the KRG delegation, we will have a say in the conference. We will address the Kurdistan Region’s experience in combating human trafficking,” Dr. Sami Jalal, an official from the KRG Interior Ministry, told Rudaw.

Many Kurds have migrated from Syria to Greece and Kurdish officials are trying to learn about their plight.

“Today, we will visit a migrant camp in Athens where there is a large number of Kurds to check up on their situation. We will also conduct a report in this respect,” Jalal added.



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