6. April 2022 – ADVOCACY
One year has gone by since the Iraqi Parliament passed the so-called Yazidi Survivors’ Law on March 1, 2021. It aims to compensate and support survivors of the horrific Daesh crimes and thus represents a fundamental step towards justice and reparations. But what has happened since? For HÁWAR.help, today is an occasion to take stock.
On March 1, 2021, the Iraqi Parliament enacted the Yazidi Survivors’ Law (YSL) – a law that addresses the genocide against the Yazidi community, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the jihadist terrorist organization Daesh (Arabic acronym for “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”) in Iraq between 2014 and 2017. The law provides for rehabilitation, financial compensation, medical assistance, educational services, and economic support opportunities, and explicitly recognizes that Daesh committed genocide against Yazidis and crimes against humanity. In addition to Yazidi survivors, the law is intended to benefit other members of ethno-religious minorities in Iraq, including Turkmen, Shabaks, and Christians, whom Daesh also targeted with violence.
The law was largely driven by the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR), an alliance of civil society organizations, including HÁWAR.help. C4JR advocates at the national and international level for comprehensive reparations for victims of sexual violence and survivors of other crimes committed by Daesh in Iraq and Syria. Helping survivors obtain their right to reparations and justice as well as giving them a voice, are among the Alliance’s main concerns.
However, a year after the passing the law, the situation of survivors has hardly improved. This is because the implementation of the YSL faces numerous challenges, due in part to the tense political situation in Iraq and a lack of budgetary resources. While the Iraqi government established a “Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs” as recently as 2021, which is tasked with implementing the law, the Directorate lacks the necessary resources to fulfill its responsibilities. Furthermore, the application process is hampered by bureaucratic hurdles, lack of funds, and application and review mechanisms.
Survivors are thus still waiting for justice and have been persevering in IDP camps in northern Iraq for more than seven years, with no prospect of a better future. They are still unable to return to their home region, partly because the law makes inadequate provision for ensuring reconstruction, jobs, education, health and psychosocial services. However, this is a prerequisite for survivors to leave IDP camps and build new lives.
As part of the Coalition for Just Reparations, HÁWAR.help advocates for the comprehensive implementation of the Yazidi Surivors’ Law, but also for reparations and reappraisal beyond that. Therefore, it is indispensable that the Iraqi government sets the institutional and financial course for the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors’ Law, that the reconstruction of the Sinjar region is advanced and that the international community does not let up in its pressure for a comprehensive clarification and reparation of the genocide. To this end, we at HÁWAR.help are making our contribution both in Germany and in Iraq!