Council of Europe has declared that along with other crimes, ISIS is committing genocide of religious and ethnic minorities in the Middle East.
Earlier this week, in a Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, a resolution entitled “Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq” was passed nearly unanimously by the assembly. The resolution states that “individuals who act in the name of the terrorist entity which calls itself Da’ish” ISIS have “perpetrated acts of genocide and other serious crimes punishable under international law.”
The resolution also states that “States should act on the presumption that Da’ish [i.e. ISIS] commits genocide and should be aware that this entails action under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide”
In the resolution, the assembly “recalls that under international law States have a positive obligation to prevent genocide, and thus should do their utmost to prevent their own nationals from taking part in such acts”
The resolution is a positive step towards protection of Christians and other religious minorities who have been brutally murdered and driven out of their homes since the occupation of Middle Eastern areas by ISIS.
The resolution also calls its member states to “fulfil their positive obligations under the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by taking all necessary measures to prevent genocide”.
The recognition of the “crime of genocide” is important since genocide is considered one of the severest crimes. After the recognition of the crime, it imposes upon States and International community the obligation to act in order to prevent it, defend attacked communities and to judge and punish those responsible. The attempt, conspiracy, and incitement to commit genocide is also punishable under international law. Thus, any individual, organization or state, wherever they might be – including Europe and in the US – should be criminally prosecuted as soon as they publically encourage these crimes or are accomplices of them.
Pieter Omtzigt, the Rapporteur of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, who advocated for the recognition of the “genocide” explains that the recognition is important as it obliges different governments under the 1948 UN conventions on genocide to do all in their power to stop the genocide. “One of the measures countries must take is preventing their own citizens from travelling to Raqqa and becoming a member of the organization that commits genocide”. Omtzigt continues, “In a number of European countries membership of a terrorist organization (like Da’ish) is an offense and the authorities can send people to prison for just that.”
On February 4th, the European Parliament will vote on the same issue. During the recent debate over “the systematic massacre of religious minorities by the ‘Islamic state’ group”, the High Representative for the European Union for foreign affairs, Mrs. Federica Mogherini, refused to use the term of genocide.
Though some governments have already recognized the genocide the European Institution and UN still have time to do so.