Today, the European Parliament will vote a joint motion for a Resolution on the Systematic mass murder of religious minorities by ISIS. This Resolution seeks to highlight international crimes committed against all religious minorities by the terrorist group, in particular, crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. It represents a further step following the Resolution approved in March 2015 by the European Parliament on the atrocities committed by ISIS against religious minorities. The relevance of this new European Parliament decision is not only symbolic: it paves the way for preventive measures and further actions to stop the on-going incipient genocide against Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities and communities, and to prosecute the perpetrators of such crimes.
The 1949 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide obliges Contracting Parties “to prevent and to punish” the crime of genocide (Article 1) and entitles any of them to ”call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide” (Article 8). This action includes: a) effective measures to protect the victims; b) proportionate actions to stop or impede aggressors from perpetrating a genocide against religious minorities or; c) providing humanitarian assistance to the members of the group, who are direct or indirect victims of acts of genocide (e.g., refugees); and d) referral of acts of genocide by the UN Security Council to the International Criminal Court in order to prosecute the perpetrators of conspiracy, direct and public incitement, attempts to commit genocide and complicity with genocide, including private individuals.
The European Parliament Resolution is concomitant with the Resolution adopted last 27 January by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which recognised that Da’ish had perpetrated acts of genocide and other serious crimes punishable under international law,
and reaffirmed that “Member States should act on the presumption that Da’ish commits genocide”.
This important step should be followed by more decisive action at UN level, notably by the UN Security Council, which is entitled to implement decisions for the protection of Christians and other religious minorities victims of mass murder and to prosecute ISIS militants for having committed acts of genocide.