The self-proclaimed Islamic State is committing genocide against the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq and Syria, United Nations investigators said Thursday.
In 11 detailed reports, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said the Islamic State routinely tortures members of the religious group, enslaves its women and girls and executes Yazidi men and boys who refuse to convert to Islam. The UN said those actions that amount to war crimes.
“Genocide has occurred and is ongoing,” Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the UN Commission said in a statement. “ISIS has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.”
The reports, which are based on interviews with survivors, activists and religious leaders, among others, document atrocities committed against the Yazidis since the beginning of the Syrian civil war five years ago.
Multiple sources reported that women and girls are often sold as sex slaves to ISIS fighters. One female survivor recalled being sold 15 times.
“Survivors who escaped ISIS captivity in Syria describe how they endured brutal rapes, often on a daily basis,” UN Commissioner Vitit Muntarbhorn said in a statement. “They were punished if they tried to escape with severe beatings, and sometimes gang rapes.”
The UN’s declaration will make it easier to prosecute Islamic State fighters under international law.
UN officials said the first of such prosecutions would likely take place in the regions of Syria and Iraq where the acts were committed.