White House says ready to help ICC over ISIL genocide probe in Syria, Iraq

White House says ready to help ICC over ISIL genocide probe in Syria, Iraq

WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
White House says ready to help ICC over ISIL genocide probe in Syria, Iraq

AP photo

The White House on March 17 said it was ready to support an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into alleged genocide carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.

“The United States will cooperate with independent efforts to investigate genocide,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest, adding that the administration is willing to support the ICC in gathering evidence.

The United States declared earlier in the day that ISIL’s slaughter of Christians, Yazidis and Shiites in Iraq and Syria amounts to a genocide and vowed to halt it.

“The ICC is typically the organization that would take a look at this, and given the judgment that Secretary [of State John] Kerry has made, the United States would be supportive of that effort, both rhetorically, but also in a tangible way as well,” said Earnest.

“The United States will support efforts to collect documents, preserve and analyze evidence of atrocities and the United States will do all we can to ensure perpetrators of these atrocities are held to account and brought to justice.” 

The United States is not party to the ICC, but U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration has introduced a policy of working with the court.

Hours before Earnest’s remarks, Kerry determined that ISIL was committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, as he acted to meet a congressional deadline.

A day after the State Department said Kerry would miss the deadline, Kerry said he had completed his review and determined that Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups are victims of genocide and crimes against humanity by ISIL militants. The House earlier this week passed a non-binding resolution by a 393-0 vote condemning ISIL atrocities as genocide.

“In my judgment Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in territory under its control” Kerry said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

He outlined a litany of atrocities that he said the militants had committed against people and religious sites, as well as threats. “Daesh is genocidal by self-acclimation, by ideology and by practice.”

Saying that he was “neither judge nor prosecutor nor jury,” Kerry added that any potential criminal charges against the extremists must result from an independent international investigation. 

Kerry’s finding does not obligate the United States to take additional action against ISIL militants and does not prejudge any prosecution against its members.