KRG approves draft legislation to establish criminal court to prosecute ISIS militants

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (second from right_ chairs a meeting of Council of Ministers in Erbil, April 28, 2021. (KRG photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said justice is “overdue” but it will be delivered, a few hours after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) approved a draft legislation to establish a criminal court to prosecute Islamic State (ISIS) militants for their crimes.

The KRG Council of Ministers held a meeting on Wednesday to vote on five draft laws, including a legislation to establish a criminal court to hold ISIS militants accountable for genocide and war crimes against humanity.

“Once voted on and passed into law, this legislation will create the necessary legal framework to prosecute ISIS terrorists for their crimes against our peoples and humanity at large, through a national court in Erbil,” Barzani said in a statement.

“I know this legislation will not heal the deep wounds of victims, particularly the Yazidi people and other groups. But it will be a pathway towards accountability, closure and above all justice,” he added.

ISIS militants overran large swathes of territory in Iraq in 2014, killing and beheading thousands of people, including Yazidis.

ISIS, which views the Yazidis as devil worshippers, killed more than 3,000, enslaved 7,000 Yazidi women and girls and displaced most of the 550,000-strong community from its ancestral home in northern Iraq.

The militants shot, beheaded, burned alive or kidnapped more than 9,000 members of the minority religion, in what the United Nations has called a genocidal campaign against them. According to community leaders, more than 3,000 Yazidis remain unaccounted for.

The Kurdish prime minister said the KRG, Iraq and international community had a “solemn duty” to prosecute ISIS militants accountable.

“Today sets us on a path toward fulfilling our shared responsibility. For the Iraqi people and victims the world over, justice is overdue. But it will be delivered,” he stated.

He also called on the Kurdistan parliament to see the draft legislation “a priority and lose no time passing it”.

He reaffirmed that the Region would continue to fight against ISIS militants in “all forms until we uphold justice and bring redress to the many victims”.

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