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.
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
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