New York, NY, December 14 … ADL’s Task Force on Middle East Minorities welcomes Congress’s passage of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390) and President Trump signing this important bill into law. The Act, which passed both chambers of Congress with wide bipartisan support, ensures that U.S. humanitarian assistance in Syria and Iraq goes to ethnic and religious minority individuals and communities that are in greatest need, including communities that are at risk of persecution and genocide.
The Act also directs the State Department to identify threats of persecution, genocide and crimes against humanity, and war crimes against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria. It authorizes the U.S. government to provide financial and technical assistance to support NGOs and other entities to conduct criminal investigations, and to collect and preserve evidence for use in prosecuting individuals and groups suspected of committing crimes against humanity.
Task Force Member Jomana Qaddour, who is also the co-founder of Syria Relief & Development, stated that "The bill, through targeted sanctions on those guilty of atrocities, puts all war crimes perpetrators in Syria on notice that the US will continue to find ways to hold them accountable.”
Reverend Johnnie Moore (who in addition to serving on ADL’s Task Force also serves as a Commissioner on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom and is the author of Defying ISIS) issued the following statement:
It is impossible to overstate the significance of this bill. We were all very pleased when the House and the Senate each voted unanimously to declare that ISIS was attempting a genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East but such a profound, moral action demands further action, namely one cannot invoke such a powerful word without also creating the mechanisms necessary to provide consequences for the perpetrators. This bill, among other things, does just that. It puts teeth into the profoundly symbolic action of declaring ‘genocide’ ensuring that evidence will be collecting and that those who have aided and abetted these atrocities cannot live in the world’s shadows. They can be and will be held accountable
Task Force Member Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said, “H.R. 390 is an historic move to challenge the culture of impunity in Iraq and Syria, and will have ramifications for the Greater Middle East. Vigilance against former perpetrators of crimes against humanity is the best deterrence against further atrocities targeting vulnerable communities in the Middle East and beyond.”