URGENT LETTER: National Accountability Mechanism for Iraq
Ms. Federica Mogherini
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs
Vice President of the European Commission
Re: Protecting minorities in Iraq: proposal of a National Accountability Mechanism
Honorable High Representative,
In the context of the unprecedented threat against the future of Christians and other religious and ethnic communities in Iraq there is a critical need to ensure real commitment to protecting and ensuring equal rights for all citizens, irrespective of religion.
Religious minorities such as Christians, Yazidis, Druze, Ismailis and other have been particularly targeted by the terrorist group “ISIS” for their beliefs, which in some cases had led to them to flee genocidal violence. Almost all the Yazidi population (c. 200 000 people) fled the Sinjar region and only one Christian out of five remains in Iraq today.
Although minorities have lived through conflicts in the past, the current situation signals a cultural change that will not be easily reversed: a report found that Christians feel humiliated and stripped of even their basic dignity. High levels of violence have created a climate of distrust between religious communities. Minorities will continue to leave or won’t return due to the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness caused by losing faith in a system that has failed to protect them from violence and extremism (committed by ISIS, other extremist groups but also sometimes by their own neighbours) and failed to provide them with dignity, equality, and a safe and secure future for their children in the countries where they belong.
The new EU strategy for Iraq adopted on 22 January 2018 describes Iraq as now standing at a cross-roads. The EU is ready to assist the country in building its post-ISIS future focusing on inclusive governance and social cohesion. The strategy clearly states the objective to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq, as well as its ethnic and religious diversity.
The defeat of ISIS is only a first step towards peace and security for religious minorities. Tensions and discriminatory practices that predate ISIS remain. The future of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in post-ISIS societies in the Middle East is at stake. The return of refugees and internally displaced persons is now an urgent issue. The possibility of the emergence of tolerant and democratic societies, integrating minorities and ensuring religious pluralism, is at stake. The integrity of the international justice system, its commitment to reconciliation and human rights hangs in the balance.
The return and the future of religious and ethnic minorities depends on security, governance and justice, as well as facilities such as schools and hospitals - and more specifically access to water and electricity in the Nineveh plains. It similarly depends on their ability to be treated as equals among their citizenry. Creating a National Accountability Mechanism for grievances is a long-term solution which aims to restore faith in a system that ensures all religious and ethnic communities are affirmed as equal citizens and deserving of protection, while also deterring negative actors from taking adverse actions against these communities. A National Accountability Mechanism is an important step towards national reconciliation.
As the new EU strategy for Iraq supports “a credible process of transitional justice and accountability for crimes committed by all the parties as being an important element for national reconciliation”, we urge you to practically implement this strategy by sponsoring the establishment of a transparent and inclusive National Accountability Mechanism in Iraq along these guiding principles:
• Public access and ownership of the Mechanism;
• The Mechanism should report on incidents of violence and discrimination, which will help empower so-far marginalized religious and ethnic communities.
• High-level commitment by the Iraqi Government at the Human Rights or Religious Freedom level as well as government ownership and endorsement of accountability.
• Structure to include:
(i) An independent legal arm to ensure criminal wrongdoings are prosecuted legally (e.g. property destruction, physical violence, etc.), and that citizens have a right of private action to challenge civil wrongdoings legally (e.g. discrimination in hiring practices, discrimination in property rentals, etc.);
(ii) A reporting platform that is accessible and safe for anyone to contribute to;
(iii) Representatives from governments, religious and local civil society, and international observers;
(iv) Parallel awareness and education campaigns for institutions and the public.
• Effective reduction of the gap between legislative and constitutional protection and day-to-day discriminatory practices.
• Shared funding and ownership between the Iraqi Governments and international partners, including the EU.
We, Members of the European Parliament, call upon you for concrete and strong action to protect religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, after the signature of financing agreements for a stabilization package of €60.4 million, with the country still facing humanitarian, security, stabilization and reconciliation challenges. We therefore request the following action in support of National Accountability Mechanism:
• The National Accountability Mechanism to be included in the EU-Iraq conversations’ agenda as a concrete proposal for the ‘credible process of transitional justice and accountability’ outlined in the EU strategy for Iraq
• The EU to offer to co-fund this Mechanism in partnership with the Iraqi government and other international institutions
• The EU to offer independent observers to ensure the smooth running of the Mechanism.
As you said yourself in you opening remarks at the International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq : “The goal of reconstruction is to build a country that works for everyone, and where everyone can find their place and feel at home. A reconstruction that works for all Iraqi people, beyond their ethnicity, their faith, their social background and gender.”
This is an occasion to make it real.
MEP Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ, Lithuania
MEP Peter van DALEN, Netherlands
MEP Luigi MORGANO, Italia
MEP Anna ZÁBORSKÁ, Slovakia
MEP Csaba SÓGOR, Romania
MEP Jonathan ARNOTT, UK
MEP Thomas MANN, Germany
MEP Tunne KELAM, Estonia
MEP Marijana PETIR, Croatia
MEP Catherine STIHLER, UK
MEP Brice HORTEFEUX, France
MEP László TŐKÉS, Hungary
MEP Lars ADAKTUSSON, Sweden
MEP Marek JUREK, Poland
MEP Françoise GROSSETÊTE, France
MEP Alojz PETERLE, Slovenia
MEP Miltiadis KYRKOS, Greece
MEP Arne GERICKE, Germany
MEP Branislav ŠKRIPEK, Slovakia
MEP Diane DODDS, UK
MEP György HÖLVÉNYI, Hungary
MEP Jan OLBRYCHT, Poland
MEP Damiano ZOFFOLI, Italia
MEP Annie SCHREIJER-PIERIK, Netherlands
MEP Bas BELDER, Netherlands
MEP Kazimierz Michał UJAZDOWSKI, Poland
MEP Franz OBERMAYR, Austria
MEP Jana ŽITŇANSKÁ, Slovakia
MEP Joëlle BERGERON, France
MEP Silvia COSTA, Italia
MEP Clare MOODY, UK
MEP Gérard DEPREZ, Belgium
MEP Alain CADEC, France
MEP Rachida DATI, France
MEP Mirosław PIOTROWSKI, Poland
MEP Patrizia TOIA, Italia
MEP Pascal ARIMONT, Belgium
MEP Angélique DELAHAYE, France
MEP Brian HAYES, Ireland
MEP Josef WEIDENHOLZER, Austria
MEP Bogdan Brunon WENTA, Poland
MEP Ryszard Antoni LEGUTKO, Poland
L. Andrikienės su kolegomis laiškas ES vyriausiajai įgaliotinei užsienio reikalams ir saugumo politikai Federicai Mogherini dėl krikščionių padėties Irake ir ES politikos bei veiksmų
URGENT LETTER: National Accountability Mechanism for Iraq