New Iraqi Law Is Important First Step for Survivors of ISIS Violence: PHR

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomes the Iraqi Parliament’s adoption of the Yazidi Women Survivors’ Law and considers it a significant step towards recognition of the crimes committed by ISIS and the establishment of reparation programs for those who were subjected to sexual violence and slavery by ISIS. The law, passed on March 1, 2021, calls for compensation, rehabilitation, and education for survivors of sexual violence, which include members of the Yazidi and other ethno-religious minority groups, such as the Turkmen, Shabak, and Christian communities. The law also stipulates the establishment of a new government department, to be directed by a Yazidi, tasked to implement the reparation program. The law not only aims to compensate the survivors but also to rehabilitate and integrate them into society.

Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s director of policy said, “This Yazidi Survivors’ Law is an important first step to help the survivors of ISIS atrocities to recover and heal, and eventually enable meaningful justice in Iraq in the wake of these heinous crimes. We are hopeful that the newly enacted reparation program will respect the confidentiality and dignity of survivors and protect them from re-traumatization.” Further, Sirkin noted, “All Iraqi parties need to work together to ensure a survivor-based approach in the prosecution of sexual violence crimes, and to address the specificity of the ways in which ISIS perpetrators attempted to eradicate entire groups of people through murder, kidnapping, sexual slavery, and unspeakable violence. No effort should be spared to rescue and determine the fate of those who were kidnapped and those who are still missing and to enable the return of internally displaced people to their homes.” Sirkin added, “We also encourage the Iraqi government to address the needs of all the survivors of ISIS atrocities, regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity.”

The newly enacted law memorializes August 3as a national day to commemorate ISIS crimes. This is the date that ISIS forces attacked the Sinjar area, murdered more than 5,000 Yazidi men, and took more than 6,000 Yazidi women and children as slaves. PHR calls on the Iraqi government and other governments and donor agencies to provide additional assistance to the Yazidi and other affected communities to help support their recovery and to hold the perpetrators of mass crimes accountable.

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