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More Than Ink on Paper Podcast with IOM’s Sandra Orlovic: English Transcript

December 10, 2023
C4JR PODCAST

Implementing the Yazidi Survivors Law: Listen to C4JR in conversation with IOM Iraq’s Sandra Orlovic here.

Episode Description:

When one thinks of the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), they might consider issues of migration management, migrant protection, and humanitarian assistance. But in the case of the Yazidi Survivors Law (YSL), IOM Iraq has played a key role in providing technical assistance to Iraqi institutions, civil society and survivors, leading to the enactment of the law itself in March 2021, and a series of achievements since as the YSL implementation has gotten off the ground, with the General Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs coordinating implementation efforts, the Committee reviewing applications, and the allocation of funding from the federal budget. The application process launched over a year ago, and more than 1,000 survivors have now received their monthly salaries (sign up to the Coalition for Just Reparations’ monthly newsletter here to stay informed with the latest statistics).

So how has IOM found itself in the reparation “business” and what is the nature of its role in supporting reparations in Iraq? Which of the provisions are the most challenging – and important – to implement? What are the very real challenges facing those who hope to see survivors achieve the meaningful justice promised in the transitional justice framework, and what role should civil society organisations play in supporting survivors to realise their right to reparations under the YSL? C4JR sat down with the Head of IOM Iraq´s Reparation team, Sandra Orlovic, to discuss these issues and many others in a wide-ranging conversation drawing on her extensive experience in the implementation process of the YSL in recent years.

As we discuss, the Yazidi Survivors Law is a comprehensive piece of legislation which goes well beyond the common understanding of reparations and, in addition to compensation, covers rehabilitation, land, housing, education, employment, genocide recognition, the search for the missing, the return of physical remains of the deceased to their families, memorialisation, and also – as we discuss – the pursuit of criminal justice. The YSL even sets out that it aims to prevent the recurrence of violations. Our conversation was recorded in November 2023.

Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Coalition for Just Reparation’s new podcast series, “More Than Ink on Paper”, through which we’ll platform relevant voices around the Yazidi Survivors Law, which has too often also been referred to as “ink on paper” by some survivors of ISIS crimes to voice their doubts about the government’s commitment to delivering long-awaited reparations guaranteed under the legislation. We’ll be speaking to those working to ensure that this is not the case, and take a sweeping look at issues of transitional justice and accountability in Iraq, through the process of seeking to implement the law.

Alannah Travers: Today, we are speaking with the Head of IOM Iraq´s Reparation team, Sandra Orlovic. Sandra is a human rights lawyer and activist bringing a wealth of transitional justice experience to Iraq from another post-conflict region, the former Yugoslavia. Sandra is currently based in Iraq, where she leads the IOM Iraq Reparations team, supporting the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors Law. Sandra, it’s a pleasure to be able to speak with you today on behalf of the Iraqi civil society organisations that make up the Coalition for Just Reparations, and also on behalf of the Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights.

For listeners who may be new to these concepts, the Coalition for Just Reparations (“C4JR”) is an alliance of 33 Iraqi civil society organisations established to help survivors of the ISIS conflict in Iraq realise their right to reparations, working alongside IOM and others as we seek the full implementation of the 2021 Yazidi Survivors Law, which is essentially a comprehensive state-funded reparation program.

For background, the Yazidi Survivors Law provides reparations if you are a member of one of the following groups: Adult and minor female survivors of ISIS captivity from the Yazidi, Shabak, Christian or Turkmen communities, male Yazidis who were abducted by ISIS when they were under the age of 18 at the time of abduction, and all persons from the Yazidi, Shabak, Christian or Turkmen communities who were ISIS abducted and personally survived a specific incident of ISIS mass killing. Applications are made to the General Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs, which is a government body recently established in Iraq under the auspices of the federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs.

Let’s open at the beginning, Sandra. Thank you for joining us from Baghdad. My first question is, why is it so important for the Yazidi Survivors Law to reach survivors, and what is the current status of its implementation in Iraq?

Sandra Orlovic: Thank you, Alannah, and it’s a pleasure and honour to be with you. The importance of the Yazidi Survivors Law is best explained through individual stories of those beneficiaries who already have seen some tangible benefits from the Yazidi Survivors Law; over 1,000 beneficiaries, mostly women from the Yazidi community, have already started receiving monthly salaries and some of them have begun to receive some essential mental health services. They say that this law has made a significant impact in their lives even though the implementation of the law is at its very beginning. But what they usually cite as a critical difference in their lives is that through the monthly financial salary, they can regain some autonomy and dignity and make plans for themselves and their family members without waiting for humanitarian assistance or support and help from other distant family members. On this practical and humane level, I think that the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors Law has already brought some positive changes to survivors’ lives.

On a more general level for the whole community who was affected by genocide, I would say that the Yazidi Survivors Law offered a glimpse of hope and a gesture that means that for the Yazidi community, Shabak, Turkmen and the Christian community, who have been disproportionally affected by the ISIS genocide and felt that they were not protected during the period when ISIS was controlling large swaths of the territory in Iraq, the Yazidi Survivors Law and its adoption in parliament and the strong commitment from the Iraqi government to fund the implementation of this law signals to these communities that the authorities in Iraq care for these communities. They want to provide redress and official recognition, which can show them that they are wanted in this country, and that they have a future in this country. I would say that the Yazidi Survivors Law is a very aspirational transitional justice law, and it covers not only reparations but also calls for justice and accountability for genocide, the search for missing persons, and memorialisation. It is really important to continue efforts for its implementation.

Alannah: From a technical perspective, legislation envisaging comprehensive services is and would be very difficult to implement anywhere, not least in Iraq. Can you reflect on the last few years of working on reparations in Iraq and share some of the milestones and challenges along the way? It’s only been a couple of years since this legislation was passed, and the first reparations were dispersed just this year. So it’s been quite recent successes, but I’m sure plenty of years of preparation before that, which would be interesting to share.

Sandra: Based on the criteria of the readiness of institutions for implementing this law in other countries that have similar laws, if they were applied in Iraq, the laws would still not be implemented, because the main institution in Iraq which is in charge of implementing the Yazidi Survivors Law still hasn’t received the key resources for the implementation, which are people and employees of the institutions who need to implement this law. Some people are very critical, saying, why doesn’t the directorate have more employees, or why are they not more effective? And we can see, and whoever lives in Iraq and follows the situation in Iraq sees, that it’s not really about lack of political will to support the directorate; it’s instead the reality of political life and the system in Iraq, which over the past several years, and further back, has gone through a chain of consecutive crisis. It’s a political crisis with cycles of violence. All this affects the establishment of the directorate, the completion of the recruitment process, and getting all the resources needed for the directorate.

In other words, I think that the directorate management and the head of the directorate have made a brave decision to start with the implementation of the law, and especially with the application process, even though they didn’t have all the necessary or almost any necessary preconditions and resources to start this implementation. There is where the international community, IOM, and other organisations and local organisations supported this process. This support was instrumental in the start of the application process. As you said, the application process and implementation of this law would be challenging in any country, let alone Iraq. We can see those challenges discussed in the public domain, and there is quite a good dialogue and openness among all who support this process. What are the responses to these challenges? And what’s the role of each of us in addressing these challenges?

Alannah: Thank you, and turning to the legislation itself. IOM and yourself have supported Iraqi authorities in designing, consultations and passing the Yazidi Survivors Law. It’s no secret that certain sections of the initial bill submitted by the President of Iraq back in 2019 were cut out, such as that addressing the position of children born of sexual violence. However, what landed in the final version is objectively quite a remarkable piece of legislation. Are you satisfied with the final version of the Yazidi Survivors Law enacted in Iraq’s Parliament? What do you consider the most important provisions of the Yazidi Survivors Law, and which ones are the most challenging to implement?

Sandra: The most important dimension or feature of the Yazidi Survivors Law is probably its holistic nature because it really calls for the implementation of holistic, transitional justice when it comes to survivors of genocide from these four communities. It’s rare to see on a global level, compared to some other countries that went through comparatively similar experiences of conflict and genocide, to adopt such a comprehensive framework. It is a very short law; it’s only 13 articles, but it still gives a solid foundation for the transitional justice process. Yes, the focus is on reparations for a reason: reparations, primarily for women who have been subjected to the captivity of ISIS. We all know that this was followed in most of the cases by brutal sexual violence, and that feature of the law is extraordinary. The second feature that is extraordinary is this specific focus on women who survived the captivity of ISIS, and who went through the brutal experience of sexual violence and sexual slavery.

Iraq is among the few countries in the world that recognises this civilian victim, this specific category of civilian survivors of genocide, as a separate category without using any vague terms, but rather determines this category in very plain, clear and emphatic words, and Iraq is the first country in the Arab world to have such an approach to redressing survivors of conflict-related sexual violence. I think these two features are, in my view, the most extraordinary ones. One peculiar feature of this law is the mentioning of survivors who are now living outside of Iraq, not only that the law mentioned these beneficiaries, survivors who have left the country, and we know that hundreds of survivors and their families have been resettled in Germany, Australia, the USA, Sweden, and a few other countries, that they will benefit from the law. But, in fact, among the 1,300 beneficiaries who have until now been verified by the verification committee, there are around 200 survivors living outside of Iraq and benefiting from the law. So, I would emphasise this feature of the law as well.

Alannah: Thank you. Slightly linking to this but taking a step backwards, it’s interesting how IOM has become involved in supporting the reparations program and process in Iraq. Perhaps when people who are not so directly involved in Iraq think of IOM (the UN’s International Organization for Migration), they think of migrant protection and that form of humanitarian assistance. But in the case of the Yazidi Survivors Law, IOM has played a pivotal role in providing technical assistance to Iraqi institutions, civil society, and survivors, and I know you’re busy in Baghdad doing this. How has IOM found itself in the reparation business, particularly in Iraq but wherever else that applies?

Sandra: Thanks, you’re completely right and we get this question very often. It’s not intuitive to think of IOM as somebody with the mandate to support reparation programs in any country. But our enrolment comes through two tracks. One is the historical establishment of the International Organization for Migration after the Second World War, where IOM supported refugees, moving from one country to another back to their place of residence. Based on that, fast forward to the early 2000s, the German government asked IOM to facilitate the second biggest reparation program related to the Second World War, where the German government was paying compensation to victims of slavery and forced labour workers during the Second World War. IOM facilitated compensation claims and claims processed in dozens of countries worldwide. That was a huge endeavour for the whole organisation, there were more than 200,000 claims that were processed through IOM.

Slowly after that involvement, IOM was also involved in the indirect reparation program for the Roma Holocaust and a few other smaller reparation programs in relation to the Second World War, and then this in-house expertise slowly started to be applied to ongoing or recently ended conflicts around the world, including Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Colombia, where IOM still has the biggest transitional justice program and works indirectly with the government in the implementation of their transitional justice framework. Iraq, of course, Bosnia, and a couple more countries. This is the historical genesis of the involvement of IOM in transitional justice and especially reparation programs, but there is also one important link. This is the second track through which IOM is entering into these processes, where we can see the link between reparation programs and our core mandate.

Our core mandate is to support dignified migration, through which we are also addressing, especially in post-conflict countries, core drivers of migration. In this region and through our regional strategy for this region, one of our main tasks as an organisation is to address these core drivers of conflict. If you look into the context of these countries in this region, but also in some other regions in the world, the main drivers of conflict are lack of access to justice. People often migrate illegally, searching for better lives, searching for better protection, and access to justice, leaving these countries and going to Western Europe or other countries or regions where they feel they will find more safety, more recognition, better governance, access to justice, protection of their rights, etc.

In this sense, the reparation programs are designed to support survivors to heal and restore their rights but also to show the government’s new face and readiness to provide redress for wrongdoings and lack of protection of their citizens. This fits into the mandate of IOM and, more broadly speaking, into the general framework of sustainable development goals where access to justice and peace is the development goal that is in the mandate of basically all UN agencies.

Alannah: Thank you. That was such a helpful answer, and I’d like to follow that up with the appetite you’re seeing among Iraqi officials to support you with these efforts. Because we’ve seen much progress over this past year. An interesting aspect of the Yazidi Survivors Law beyond the common understanding of reparations is the pursuit of criminal justice, which we know is really challenging in Iraq, and it spells out the aim to prevent the recurrence of violations. It’s more of a transitional justice framework than conventional reparation legislation, and that involves a lot of buy-in from different government sectors across the country. Linking to the question I asked about the role of IOM, how much do you see government officials being supportive of these aspects of the Yazidi Survivors Law, as well as the more easy to understand: land, housing, education?

Sandra: Accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity is a topic that is now very high on the political agenda in Iraq, especially after the announcement in the last Security Council resolution regarding UNITAD and the extension of their mandate only until September 2024. I saw the letter that came from civil society organizations and survivors in relation to the ending of the UNITAD mandate which raised legitimate concerns on the side of civil society and survivors that this accountability was very strongly tied with the UNITAD mandate and that there are fears now that with the end of the mandate, prospects for accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity may simply disappear in Baghdad. But I also saw the response from Iraq’s Prime Minister Sudani to this letter, where there are some strong commitments made by this government in relation to pursuing accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and preparation of the draft legislation for prosecution of genocide and crimes against humanity, and IOM did support the Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs to facilitate several national dialogue sessions with some institutions in Iraq about this legislation.

I think that the next six to 10 months will be really interesting in this respect; there is a lot of strong demands coming from survivors and communities and civil society organisations; expectations that the government will deliver on the promise of accountability for genocide and crimes against humanity, because as in any other society, not seeing that part of the transitional justice and not seeing justice in the courtroom would feel an incomplete justice process for this community, regardless of the fact that the implementation of the reparation program is going well. It is not without problems, but is going very well. But even if the reparation program from the Yazidi Survivors Law is implemented perfectly, if there is no accountability process for genocide and crimes against humanity, I feel that survivors and victims‘ communities will be disappointed and will feel let down. I am hopeful and optimistic. From IOM’s side, we are trying to support the government, civil society, and survivors, to continue advocacy and dialogue towards getting to the desired aim, and that is the legislation which will enable the prosecution of ISIS members for genocide and crimes against humanity in Iraq.

Alannah: Thank you. We’ll be following the UNITAD roadmap, so we’ll see how that progresses. I totally agree with you; many organisations that make up C4JR have been horrified about this news and are very concerned. So we’ll have to see whether the government can alleviate some of these concerns in collaboration, I hope, with IOM. Linked to that; I had to ask about the recent issues that have been affecting survivors who have had to make criminal complaints through courts in Iraq to submit formal investigation documents for their applications to be considered to the Yazidi Survivors Law, which is a procedure that is not mandated within the YSL, or its regulations, but was a result of the decision made by the Article 10 Committee. We’ve seen, again, pushback against that, and survivors struggling to have their claims processed. C4JR’s position is that this goes against their spirit and the intent of the law, which was designed to have relaxed evidentiary standards to ease the application process. Of course, critics say that such checks are necessary to reduce or mitigate the risk of false claims. But essentially, it leaves potentially some of the most vulnerable survivors outside of the YSL’s reach, including Yazidi children and potentially others who are outside of Iraq and unable to submit those documents. What is IOM’s position on this, and how can we overcome the challenges faced in this situation?

Sandra: We agree with the assessment that this additional requirement that came after the application process started and after the bylaws which regulate the application process were adopted was a really unfortunate development. From everything we know, we feel that this requirement didn’t bring anything positive to the process, quite the opposite, as you said, adding an additional burden to survivors, prolonging the procedure, making it difficult for some survivors to access reparations. It definitely will, if it remains there, keep a number of survivors outside of the reparation programme, whether these are survivors from non-Yazidi communities or Yazidi children or survivors who are outside of the country. I am a participant of many advocacy efforts, both from the Directorate side and government side, and also civil society side and the UN side, to try to advocate for the removal of this requirement, but now we are one year into the application process within which this requirement was there. There is still a chance, of course, but it’s already one year into the process, and the chances are slimmer than they were a year ago. The simple answer is that we agree that this was a disappointing development, especially because both the law and bylaws do not mention this requirement as mandatory. Of course, court documents were mentioned as one of the possible pieces of evidence, but not as mandatory evidence. There are things that can still be done, and that this additional requirement doesn’t substantially affect survivors, such as improving collaboration between the federal and Kurdistan [Region] institutions in terms of sharing the evidence, but this is something outside the purview of the United Nations and IOM, and everybody is more or less aware of the problems and trying to find solutions.

Alannah: It’s interesting to be more connected to individual cases. On paper, the process makes sense, but the more you speak to people going through it, you realise the realities on the ground can be pretty challenging. Linked to that, C4JR is a collection of different Iraqi civil society organisations seeking to raise certain issues, such as this particular example but also others, in terms of helping and supporting survivors to realise their right to reparations under the YSL. What sort of role do you think these CSOs should be playing? Do you think they play a valuable role in amplifying issues specifically regarding the YSL?

Sandra: Civil society organisations in Iraq have been playing an amazing role from the very start of the discussion around the Yazidi Survivors Law, then deliberations on the content and elements of the law, and after that the adoption. The inputs, advocacy and pressure of the civil society organisations, for example, when it came to the application process procedure and the evidentiary standards and the content of these bylaws that were adopted for regulating application procedures, was key for, at least on paper, keeping the survivor centred approach. In the end, the bylaws included the rules for a survivor-centred application procedure. Unfortunately, the additional requirements came after the start of the application process, outside of the bylaws; it’s more related to some other frameworks. 

However, the strength in the value of civil society organisations was seen in that phase very clearly. Now, moving with the implementation, civil society organisations are playing an important awareness raising role about the Yazidi Survivors Law. Some of them are also helping survivors with the application process, a few of the members of the Coalition for Just Reparations, such as Farida Global or Yazda and some other organisations, have supported dozens if not hundreds of survivors to apply, and some NGOs from other non-Yazidi communities as well. It is worth emphasising that, especially survivors from non-Yazidi communities, Shabak and Turkmen, the support that they received from local activists and organisations is the support that they couldn’t find anywhere else. They wouldn’t be able to apply and be guided through this process if it wasn’t for these organisations and activists. There is more work to be done, especially regarding awareness raising about the application process. Sometimes, there is certain information that is not completely true or there were some updates in the procedure that civil society organisations are not aware of, and then maybe the correct information is not shared with the community. But I see here also a responsibility for IOM and other international organisations who might support more organisations to do this job.

Lastly, the role of civil society that is now becoming increasingly important is the role in a very formal partnership with the Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs in relation to the provision of mental health and psychosocial services. As we know, this component of the rehabilitation part of the Yazidi Survivors Law is probably the most challenging component. It will take years to have institutionalised rehabilitation support within the Yazidi Survivors Law, and in the meantime, until the Directorate and Ministry of Health come to that point where they will be able to open specialised centres for support to survivors, they’re relying now on civil society organisations. The Directorate has signed agreements and partnerships with several organisations in Iraq who are receiving referred survivors from the Directorate and providing them services in line with their capacity and expertise. So, there is a lot of work to be done. There are things can be improved, especially awareness raising and information sharing, but everybody is on the same page regarding wanting to see benefits from the Yazidi Survivors Law being delivered to survivors as soon as possible.

Alannah: Thank you, and a good point about the mental health provision because many of the NGOs who have been tasked with carrying out this support are members of C4JR, so you can see the connections between civil society and authorities. We’ve touched on it throughout the interview, but it’s often said that the right to reparations after an armed conflict is established under international law, but the implementation often falls behind. It’s wonderful to see so many people positive about the Yazidi Survivors Law and hopeful for its implementation, but there is also a cynicism among many, perhaps survivors, and people in Iraq who worry that this pattern may continue. I wonder if you have any advice or hope to share on how we can overcome these challenges globally, particularly in Iraq, to maintain pressure on the legislation and all that it entails.

Sandra: You’re exactly right. There are many examples of countries with dotted legislation on reparations, but the implementation fell through. I am more hopeful for the implementation of this law in Iraq, especially because the most common reason for interruption or incomplete implementation of reparation programmes is funding and financial resources. Usually, as you know, in post-conflict periods, governments are grappling with a financial crisis with a lack of budget revenues, and a huge need for investment in infrastructure, etc. I think Iraq is in a different situation, it has very strong revenues and budget. Of course, it has a lot of competing priorities, including the development and infrastructure, investments and creating employment opportunities. But I think in the broader scheme of things, having a Yazidi Survivors Law with an estimated around 5,000 beneficiaries and some estimated costs for these benefits will not become a big burden for the Iraqi Government anytime soon.

Where I see the bigger challenge and something where the next two or three years will be critical, is institutionalising some of these components of the Yazidi Survivors Law, especially when it comes to the reparation programme, and here I refer specifically to the rehabilitation and health care centres that are a very clear premise within the Yazidi Survivors Law. This will require a lot of resources and a lot of energy and effort, not only from the Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs because this institution cannot do it on its own, but also the engagement of several ministries and other agencies. The general landscape in Iraq is such that there is a lack of adequate resources in the healthcare system, especially in specialised services. This will be an uphill battle. I would say that this component of the MHPSS and institutionalised MHPSS services and rehabilitation, and access to rehabilitation institutions, will be a real benchmark and milestone for the success of the Yazidi Survivors Law implementation.

The first one we can already see is that 1,300 survivors were verified in just one year of publication, which is much more efficient than similar processes in other countries with similar reparation programmes. That is a really extraordinary milestone. I would say that the next milestone will be this component on rehabilitation, and it will take a year or two, but I think there are already some signs, and IOM is supporting the directorate towards starting this process of developing these rehabilitation centres. It’s very early, but I see the recognition on the side of the government that this is really needed and that without this, the implementation of the law will be incomplete. 

Alannah: That’s a great answer, because one of my other questions was how we can judge the success of the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors Law. Other people might say, it’s education, or land or housing. There are so many different aspects of the law that you could pick practically anything. We should say for listeners that IOM has concluded an Agreement to support the General Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs, which seems promising that IOM is here to stay and support the implementation. Is that correct to say?

Sandra: Yes, definitely. We have plans for the next two or three years with the Directorate and the support of the international community. There is a really strong interest on the side of the international community for seeing this law implemented. Along with the financial and political commitments made by the Iraqi government, the chances are really good. There is a lot of work, there are many challenges, and some are simply outside of the framework of Yazidi Survivors Law, related to the general problems in the governance and administrative system of Iraq. However, the political will to implement this law must not be denied. In the last three and a half years, nobody has said that this law should be abolished, or that the funding should stop. Everybody sees the value that this law brings in supporting Yazidi, Shabak, Turkmen, and Christian communities in Iraq.

Alannah: Thank you, and final question! Turning to your background, I know you’ve previously worked in the countries of ex-Yugoslavia, today the Western Balkans, such as the documentation of international crimes, working on reparations, truth and so on. I wondered whether you could share some of your experience there, and the lessons you’ve learned working in a different context; or perhaps you might say quite a similar context. And some of the things you’ve already seen implemented in Iraq in terms of replicating what went well, avoiding pitfalls, working with government officials and civil society and so on. Do you draw parallels quite often? Any insights on that would be interesting. Thank you for your time.

Sandra: Yes, well I rarely compare these two contexts because they are quite different in terms of the nature of the conflict and the societal fabric, the post-conflict period, and how transitional justice came about. In the Balkans, transitional justice processes came about under the pressure of the international community, whereas in Iraq, it’s more organic. I didn’t mention this before, but I think I should have, that one of the most important reasons why the Yazidi Survivors Law was adopted is the courage of Nadia Murad who spoke so early after her captivity about what happened to her. She dared to go globally and talk to the public about what happened. I think this changed the perspective on what happened to Yazidi women and other women from other communities under ISIS. It changed the paradigm of conflict-related sexual violence not only in Iraq but globally as well, which was then recognised through the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege.

There are not many parallels. I would say that the role of civil society organisations in both contexts is similar: courageous individuals and a wide range of types of support for the affected communities and victims. This is something where the parallel exists, and documentation work which is really important. But I think the parallels stop somewhere around civil society engagement. From this distance, transitional justice in the Western Balkans is now in regression and is a very long and complicated story. And, of course, everybody would come with their own theory of why this process is in regression now in the Balkans. But I do believe that this interplay between international community pressure and the organic, bottom-up processes didn’t go hand in hand together and that probably, for much more extended periods, more than necessary, we local actors were relying more on the international community. We thought that the international community would resolve everything and address everything, especially after the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia. We saw that effort as only the beginning, but in the end, it was the beginning and the end of transitional justice in the former Yugoslavia. With some important exceptions, of course, there are many prosecutions in Bosnia, national prosecutions, even for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But Bosnia is an outlier in the region in terms of the national prosecutions.

What is really discouraging and disappointing now, approaching 25 years after the Kosovo conflict ended, is that the narratives and inter-ethnic relations in the region are really in a bad place. There is a lot of a lot of hate speech—the younger generations who were born after the war, really follow these nationalistic narratives. The education systems are still full of these nationalistic narratives. In general, it’s a very disappointing story and, I would say, a very long one. It’s for another podcast. 

Alannah: We should end on that then. It’s a good note to end on, that these issues are long-lasting and not quick fixes. What we’ve seen with the Yazidi Survivors Law so far in Iraq has brought a lot of hope to many, and many challenges to others. I hope that people who’ve listened to this podcast are going away with a bit more understanding of IOM’s role in the conversation. Stay tuned by following C4JR’s work because we’re hoping to share even more updates over the coming weeks and months, and we’ll continue to advocate for the law’s implementation. Thank you very much, Sandra, for your time, incredible support, knowledge, and insights. It’s been really lovely to chat to you.

Sandra: Thank you, Alannah.

The Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR) is an alliance of Iraqi CSOs, helping survivors of the ISIS conflict in Iraq realise their right to reparations, as we seek the full implementation of the 2021 Yazidi Survivors Law (YSL); a comprehensive state-funded reparation program providing reparations if you are a member of one of the following groups: Adult and minor female survivors of ISIS captivity from the Yazidi, Shabak, Christian or Turkmen communities, male Yazidis who were abducted by ISIS when they were under the age of 18 at the time of abduction, and all persons from the Yazidi, Shabak, Christian or Turkmen communities whom ISIS abducted and personally survived a specific incident of ISIS mass killing. Applications are made to the General Directorate for Survivors’ Affairs, a government body recently established in Iraq under the auspices of the federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs and verified by the eight member commitee consisting of representatives of different Iraqi institutions.

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