On 19 January 2022, experts and civil society representatives sent a letter to Prime Minister calling upon him to recognise the Daesh atrocities against the Yazidis, Christians and other religious or belief minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide.

The Daesh atrocities have been recognised as genocide by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the US State Department, the Canadian and Dutch governments, and several parliaments, including the UK House of Commons.

The UK Government refused to recognise the atrocities as such hiding behind its ‘long-standing policy’ of leaving the question of genocide determination to the courts.

18 January 2023

Dear Prime Minister, 

We, the undersigned, call upon you to formally recognise the Daesh atrocities against the Yazidis, Christians and other religious or belief minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide. 

We understand that it is a long-standing policy of the UK Government not to make determinations of genocide but to leave it for competent courts. As flawed as this policy is, and noting it is contrary to duties owed by the UK under the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention), the UK Government has been standing by it for decades. 

On 30 November 2021, a criminal court in Frankfurt, Germany, convicted an Iraqi national for his involvement in genocide, crimes against humanity and other crimes. This was followed by further convictions. On 27 July 2022, the Higher Regional Court of Hamburg convicted German Daesh member Jalda A. of aiding and abetting genocide as well as of crimes against humanity and war crimes for the enslavement and abuse of a young Yazidi woman. 

As such, the courts put the evidence of the Daesh atrocities to detailed legal scrutiny, applying relevant international law, and recognised the atrocities as genocide. 

A criminal court, in the view of the UK Government, is a competent court to make such a determination. Also, criminal courts in Germany are some of the world’s most respected criminal courts to deal with issues of international crimes, particularly under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

Following the findings of genocide by German courts, we call upon the UK Government to formally recognise the atrocities committed against the Yazidis, Christians and other religious or belief minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide. 

We look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency. 

Yours sincerely, 

Organisations 

Accountability Unit

A Demand for Action 

Coalition for Genocide Response 

Free Yezidi Foundation

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute 

Yezidi Emergency Support. (Y.E.S). UK

Individuals 

Aarif Abraham, barrister, Garden Court North Chambers

Lord Alton of Liverpool, Member of the House of Lords

Andy Bailey, Director, APPG on Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Peter Burns, Executive Director, IRF Summit 

Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, Humanists UK

Rt Hon Baroness D’Souza CMG, Member of the House of Lords

Ryan D’Souza, Curator, ‘Nobody’s Listening: Forgotten Voices of Sinjar’ Virtual Realty Exhibition

Dr Tatyana Eatwell, barrister, Doughty Street Chambers 

Emily Foale, Project Manager, IBAHRI 

Lord Hannay, Member of the House of Lords

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director, Rene Cassin

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Member of the House of Lords

Prof Azeem Ibrahim OBE, Director, New Lines Institute

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, Member of the House of Lords, Director of the IBAHRI

Nadine Maenza, President, IRF Secretariat

The Lord McInnes of Kilwinning, Member of the House of Lords

Anne Norona, Founder of Yezidi Emergency Support. (Y.E.S). UK

Dr Ewelina Ochab, Programme lawyer, IBAHRI, Coalition for Genocide Response, co-founder 

Brendan O’Hara MP, Chair of the APPG on the Yazidis 

Kirsten Oswald MP, Officer of the APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief

Prof. John Packer, Neuberger-Jesin Professor of International Conflict Resolution and Director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa 

Emily Prey, Director, New Lines Institute

Benedict Rogers, Deputy Chairman, Conservative Party Human Rights Commission 

Jim Shannon MP, Chair of the APPG on International Freedom of Religion or Belief

Mervyn Thomas CMG, Founding President, Christian Solidarity Worldwide 

Yasmin Waljee OBE, Partner, International Pro Bono, Hogan Lovells International LLP

Dr Aldo Zammit Borda, Reader in International Law, City, University of London

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