Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What measures have already been taken by the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government?
On March 1st, 2021, members of the Iraqi Parliament passed the Yazidi Women Survivors Law. This law, based on the initial bill submitted by the Iraqi presidency in March 2019, delivers long-awaited relief not only to Yazidi women but also to other survivors belonging to communities targeted by Da’esh/ISIL (Christian, Turkmen, and Shabak women, Yezidi male, and female child survivors, male and female survivors of mass killings from indicated communities). It mandates financial support for survivors, measures for their rehabilitation, the provision of land, housing, education, and a quota in public sector employment. Moreover, the law explicitly recognizes that ISIL committed genocide and crimes against humanity against Yazidis, Turkmen, Christian, and Shabak minority groups.
Yazidi Women Survivors Law marks a significant milestone not only for the recognition and provision of remedies for the suffering of Yazidis and other captives of ISIL in Iraq but also one of the very few precedents of states taking deliberative action to specifically address the rights and needs of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) survivors. However, any law is only as good as it is implemented. Hence, there is a need to press for proper implementation of the YSL, including the necessary institutional infrastructure, capacity, and collaboration, as well as the ways to ensure its effectiveness, sustainability, financing, and compliance with standards and best practices.
What About Other Compensation Laws?
Law No. 20 (Compensation for Victims of Military Operations) 2009 was designed to compensate Iraqis affected by terrorism. Beneficiaries are civilian victims of war or their family members in cases when the direct victim is no longer alive. Despite offering an avenue for enforcing at least some forms or reparations for victims of ISIS conflict, it has considerable flaws:
- The bill is compensation-focused and does not envisage rehabilitation services. Nor is there any provision of ‘satisfaction’ measures, such as truth-telling or memorials or guarantees of non-repetition.
- compensation is to be provided in case of death, kidnapping, disability, injuries, damaged property, and disadvantage related to job or education. Therefore, the most common violations and their shattering consequences such as conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), slavery, child recruitment, and their large-scale and systematic nature amounting to atrocity crimes, including but not limited to genocide not fall under Law No. 20.
- victims need to submit a lot of documentation and incur relatively high costs before compensation is awarded. This proved problematic for displaced individuals, who did not have those documents at hand, or who may have lost this evidence during the armed conflict.
- finally, an insufficient amount of financial means for compensation allocated annually, shortage of qualified staff, scarcity of compensation sub-committee offices at the local level, exclusion of certain groups of victims due to their perceived affiliation to ISIS, protracted and unclear procedures hinder effective implementation. These shortcomings probably constitute an insurmountable obstacle for most of those residing in camps wanting to file a claim.
How would prospective reparations be financed?
We believe the federal and regional Iraqi authorities should be the principal sponsor of a national reparation program. However, international actors should be encouraged to contribute to reparations by making monetary or in-kind donations.
Why Recent Victims Only?
Too often, in post-conflict situations, victims’ needs are ignored. After the mass crimes committed in the Balkan and Rwandan conflicts, too much focus was placed on criminal accountability and not enough on helping victims rebuild their lives. We know from previous experience that there is only a brief post-conflict window in which international attention is focused on victims. Only with a clear, unified message can we deliver on this momentum.
What About Other Atrocities, Such As The Anfal Massacre?
Given the already high burden the armed conflict with ISIS has placed on Iraqi minorities and the entire society, we need to focus our priorities on this conflict as a coalition. Currently, the after-effects of ISIS have a great deal of media attention, presenting an excellent opportunity to develop a culture of reparations in Iraq. Once this is established, it will be easier to advocate for crimes committed in other conflicts successfully.