Prosecute and punish the perpetrators of sexual violence against Yazidis as a crime against humanity, even the possible genocide committed by ISIS


  • Taib Aziz Sadiq Kasnazany
  • ORCID:

Yazidis, Sinjar, Religious Minority, Crime of Sexual Violence, Crime against Humanity, Genocide, ICC, ISIS


On the 3rd of August 2014, ISIS fighters attacked the Sinjar region in northern of Iraq, mostly populated by Yazidis, a religious minority. In almost 3 days, most of the villages in the region were vacated and their residents captured. These events mark the beginning of a campaign of extreme violence that has left men and women apart. Adult men were massacred while girls and women were held for sale as sex slaves. More than 7 years after these events, no prosecution has been brought by International Criminal Court. States are unwilling to try their nationals guilty of crimes of genocide against the Yazidis. This paper aims to analyze the genocide of the Yazidis from the perspective of sexual violence and in particular to determine whether it can be considered to the status of genocide. The origins and legal sources of the genocide are first analyzed. This violence is then examined in the light of certain elements constituting the crime of genocide. Finally, the challenges to be met in the fight against impunity in International Criminal Court are mentioned in the conclusion.


❖Amnesty International, Escape from Hell: Torture, Sexual Slavery in Islamic State Captivity in Iraq, 22 December 2014, p. 8. ❖Antonio Cassese “Chapter 11.1 Genocide” in Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta and John RWD Jones (eds), The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary (Oxford University Press 2002) p. 348. ❖Asatrian, G. S., & Arakelova, V. (2014). The Religion of the Peacock Angel: The Yezidis and Their Spirit World. Routledge. ❖ Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, article 6, approved by the General Assembly in its resolution 260 A (III) of December 9, 1948; ❖ Dabiq 2014 (n 174) ISIS magazine p. 14, ❖ Hafiz, Y. (2014) Yazidi Religious Beliefs: History, Facts, and Traditions of Iraq’s Persecuted Minority. The Huffington Post, accessed on 20.09.2021 at religious-beliefs_n_5671903.html on ❖ ICC Elements of Crimes, article 6 section c-1 ❖ ICC, The prosecutor v Germain Katanga, case n ° ICC-01 / 04-01 / 07, Judgment, Trial Chamber II, March 7, 2014, § 975. ❖ICTR, The prosecutor v Clément Kayishema and Obed Ruzindana (Kayishema), case n ° ICTR-95-1-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber II, May 21, 1999, § 109. ❖ICTR, The prosecutor v Georges Anderson Nderubumwe Rutaganda (Rutaganda), case n ° ICTR-2001-64- T, Judgment and sentence, Trial Chamber I, December 6, 1999, § 51. ❖ICTR, The prosecutor v Jean-Paul Akayesu (Akayesu), case n ° ICTR- 96-4-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber I, September 2, 1998, § 688 and ICTR, The prosecutor against Alfred Musema (Musema), Case No. ICTR-96- 13-T, Judgment and Sentence, Trial Chamber I, January 27, 2000, § 965. ❖ICTY, Prosecutor v Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic (Kunarac), case n ° IT-96-23-T and IT-96-23 / 1-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber, February 22, 2001, § 438. ❖ ICTY, Prosecutor v Goran Jelisić (Jelisić Appeal), Case No. IT-95-10-A, Judgment, Appeals Chamber, July 5, 2001, § 49. 172 ICJ 2007 ❖ICTY, Prosecutor v Goran Jelisić (Jelisić), Case No.IT-95-10-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber I, December 14, 1999, para 80. ❖ICTY, Prosecutor v Ratko Mladić (Mladić), Case No. IT-95-5 / 18-I, Amended Indictment, 10 October 2002, § 34, section c). ❖ICTY, Prosecutor v Radislav Krstić (Krstić), Case No. IT-98-33-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber, August 2, 2001, § 513. ❖ICTY, The Prosecutor v Anto Furundžija (Furundžija), Case No. IT-95- 17 / 1-T, Judgment, Trial Chamber, December 10, 1998, § 185. ❖ ICTR, The prosecutor v Laurent Semanza (Semanza), case n ° ICTR-97- 20-T, Judgment and sentence, Trial Chamber III, May 15, 2003, § 323. ❖ Kayishema (n 96) § 116 ❖ Krstić (no.92), § 557. ❖ Lars Berster, “Article II” in Lars Berster, Björn Schiffbauer and Christian J. Tams (eds.), Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: A Commentary (CH Beck 2014) N 70, p. 120. ❖ Marc Klamberg (ed) (2017) Commentary on the Law of the International Criminal Court (Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher) p. 19. ❖ .ICC Elements of Crimes, article 7 § 1 letter g-1 and article 7 § 1 letter g- 6 (crimes against humanity), article 8 § 2 letter b xxii) -1, 8 § 2 letter b xxii ) -6 and 8 § 2 letter e vi) -1 (war crimes), June 11, 2010. ❖ UNAMI / OHCHR 2016 (n 20) p. 7 and UNAMI / OHCHR, Promotion and Protection of Rights of Victims of Sexual Violence Captured by ISIL / or in Areas Controlled by ISIL in Iraq, 22 August 2017, N 9, p. 2. ❖The Genocide Network, Eurojust, The prosecution at national level of sexual and gender-based violence (SGVB) committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), 2017, pp. 12-13. ❖United Nations, General Assembly, Resolution 96 (I): Confirmation of the principles of international law recognized by the statute of the Nuremberg Court, December 11, 1946, A / RES / 96 (I). ❖ United Nations, Human Rights Council, OHCHR Report on the Human Rights Situation in Iraq in Light of the Violations Committed by the Organization known as the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” and Groups partners, March 27, 2015, A / HRC / 28/18, N 35, pp. 9-10.