Iraq: Sexual Violence Against Yazidis

ISIL Foreign Fighters Should Be Prosecuted For Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Authored by: International Federation for Human Rights, and Kinyat

Categories: Human Rights, Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Transitional Justice, Violent Extremism
Country: Iraq and Syria
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2018
Citation: International Federation for Human Rights, and Kinyat. Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes against the Yazidi Community: the Role of ISIL Foreign Fighters. International Federation for Human Rights, 2018.

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Executive Summary

The rise of extremism in Iraq and Syria that led to the creation of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (“ISIL”) devastated local civilian populations. After renaming itself the Islamic State (“IS”) and establishing a caliphate under their chief, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the group used terror to govern regions under their control. This territorial expansion from Syria to Iraq came after the group was strengthened by growing numbers of fighters coming from across Russia, the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and the USA, as well as by its increasing control over North-Syrian territories.

On 3 August 2014, ISIL fighters attacked Sinjar District, forcing tens of thousands of Yazidis to flee for their lives. The Sinjar attack marked the start of a brutal campaign to erase the Yazidi identity, including through forced conversions to Islam, the abduction of women and children subsequently sold and exchanged into slavery, and sending young boys to ISIL indoctrination and military training recruitment camps. At the core of ISIL’s strategy behind the Sinjar attack: the taking of Yazidi women and their children as sabaya (prisoners of war). Against this background and in light of the scale and gravity of the crimes perpetrated against the Yazidi population and the extensive amount of evidence available (both documentary and witness/ victim testimony), this report uses a victim-based approach to recount the nature and extent of violations committed, in particular as regards systematic enslavement and sexual violence amounting to genocide and crimes against humanity, and the role of foreign ISIL fighters in the commission of such crimes.