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Commission of Inquiry on Syria calls for justice on the occasion of the third anniversary of ISIL’s attack on the Yazidis

03 August 2017


GENEVA, 3 August 2017 – Three years after the ISIL attack on the Yazidis, the Commission of Inquiry on Syria calls on the international community to recognize the crime of genocide being committed by ISIL against the Yazidis and to undertake steps to refer the situation to justice, and reiterates its recommendation to all parties fighting ISIL to consider rescue plans of Yazidi captives.

In the early hours of 3 August 2014, ISIL fighters launched the attack on the Yazidis of Sinjar. Over the following days, the terrorist group executed hundreds of men and took captive thousands of women and children. The Yazidis are a distinct religious community whose beliefs and practice span thousands of years, and who ISIL publicly reviles as infidels.

In its report “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis”, released on 16 June 2016, the Commission found that many of the women and girls were taken to Syria where they were sold as chattel and sexually enslaved by ISIL fighters. Boys were indoctrinated, trained, and used in hostilities. It concluded that ISIL committed the crime of genocide by seeking to destroy the Yazidis through killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, forcible displacement, the transfer of children and measures intended to prohibit the birth of Yazidi children.

The genocide is on-going and remains largely unaddressed, despite the obligation of States Party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948 to preven​t and to punish the crime. Thousands of Yazidi men and boys remain missing and the terrorist group continues to subject some 3,000 women and girls in Syria to horrific violence including brutal daily rapes and beatings. Some women and girls are being held in Raqqa city. As the Syrian Democratic Forces and international coalition offensive on Raqqa intensifies, reports have emerged of ISIL fighters trying to sell enslaved Yazidi women and girls before attempting to flee Syria.

The Commission recommends to all parties fighting ISIL to consider plans aimed at rescuing Yazidi captives and use all means available to ensure they are set free during on-going military operations. The international community must also recognize ISIL is committing the crime of genocide against the Yazidis and undertake steps to refer the situation to justice, including to the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc tribunal with relevant geographic and temporal jurisdiction as well as to dedicate resources to bringing cases before national courts, whether under the framework of universal jurisdiction or otherwise.


The Commission, which comprises Mr. Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (Chair), Ms. Karen Koning AbuZayd, and Ms. Carla Del Ponte, has been mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate and record all violations of international law since March 2011 in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The full report can be found on the Human Rights Council web page dedicated to the commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic:


For further media information:
(Geneva) Rolando Gómez, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Tel: +41-22-917.9711, email: [email protected], or Cédric Sapey, OHCHR, Tel: +41-22-917.9751, email: [email protected]