International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has criticised Iraq and UN member states for not doing enough to support Yazidis and bring to justice those who perpetrated what the UN has called genocide on the ethno-religious group.
Speaking at a UN session in New York on Friday, Clooney said, “Mass graves in Iraq lie unprotected and unexhumed,” adding, “Witnesses are fleeing and not one ISIS [Islamic State] militant has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world.”
“I am speaking to the Iraqi government and to you UN member states when I ask “Why?” she added. “Why is it that nothing has been done?”
Clooney also urged the Baghdad government to write a letter to the UN requesting an official investigation into the tragedy which occurred in August 2014.
“We do want to see an investigation take place without the cooperation of the Iraqi authorities,” Clooney told Reuters, “But ultimately if that support is not forthcoming in terms of real action, then the UN has to think of other ways in which to achieve accountability,” she added.
Clooney likened the massacre, kidnapping and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Yazidis to the genocide in Rwanda, saying, “Don’t let this be another Rwanda where you will regret doing too little too late. Don’t let ISIS get away with genocide.”
A victim of the IS onslaught, Nadia Murad, also spoke at the event telling UN ambassadors, “My words, tears and my testimony have not made you act. I wonder should I continue this campaign of mine? Will it be of any use?”
Iraq’s UN Ambassador, Mohamed Ali Alhakim, told the UN they would be “seeking help and assistance” from the international organisation but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why Iraq had not yet requested an inquiry.
The UK is drafting a United Nations Security Council resolution to establish a UN investigation but the 15-member council can only vote if Iraq makes a formal request. The UN could launch an investigation without Baghdad’s consent or refer the matter to the International Criminal Court.