(Beirut) – The Iraqi government’s recent decision requiring applicants under the Yazidi Survivors Law to file a judicial complaint to be eligible for reparations is an alarming development that does not take survivors’ best interests into consideration, 13 organizations including Human Rights Watch said in a joint statement today.
Several survivors have reported harassment and stigmatization while filing criminal complaints with the judiciary. A requirement to describe their abuse in court would also put survivors at risk of re-traumatization and does not respect their agency to decide whether to bring their cases to court.
Members of the Yazidi group experienced lethal attacks, kidnapping, enslavement, and rape by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014. Thousands of Yazidis remain displaced and 2,700 are still missing. The law allows survivors to apply for compensation in the form of a monthly salary, and includes provisions for other forms of restitution such as provisions for a plot of land, continued education, employment, and the search for those who remain missing.
The Iraqi government should rescind the judicial complaint requirement and develop procedural and evidentiary rules in line with international standards that consider the reality and needs of survivors, ensuring their access to adequate, effective, and prompt reparations.
“Yazidi survivors should not be required to file a judicial complaint to access the reparations to which they are entitled, especially given the plethora of evidence collected by official bodies, nongovernmental groups, and the media,” said Sarah Sanbar, Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Adoption of the Yazidi Survivors Law was groundbreaking, and the Iraqi government should ensure that it is implemented in a way that respects the wellbeing, agency, and rights of survivors.”