The United Nations human rights office said on Thursday that the Islamic State may have committed acts of genocide targeting Iraq’s Yazidi minority as well as war crimes against civilians, including children.
In a report based on information gathered from the testimonies of 100 alleged victims and witnesses, the U.N. Human Rights Council called on the Security Council to refer the case to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the perpetrators. The report added that Iraqi armed forces and its coalition “may have [also] committed some war crimes” while battling the militant group.
The Council issued its inquiry in September after the Islamic State occupied large portions of northern Iraq. It reported that “manifest pattern of attacks” were carried out by the Islamic State against Yazidis and other minorities including Christians as it swept across towns and villages in northern Iraq.
Investigators also cited allegations that the Islamic State used chlorine gas, a chemical weapon banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, against Iraqi soldiers in the western province of Anbar during an attack last September.
Women and children captured during operations were treated as “spoils of war” and subjected to sexual slavery and rape, the report said.
The militant group’s extremist interpretation of Sharia law has led to the implementation of cruel punishments which involve amputation and stoning. Thirteen teenage boys are reported to have been sentenced to death for watching a football game, according to the report.
Iraqi forces have also been “widely alleged” by U.N. investigators of using barrel bombs, an indiscriminate weapon banned under international law. The allegations, however, still require further investigation.
UNESCO also added that the group’s recent destruction of ancient cities in northern Iraq, described as “cultural cleansing”, constitutes a war crime.▪