On 27 May 2021, 50 representatives of victims, victims’ organizations, and the different communities in North East Syria, announced the creation of a platform to promote and defend the right to truth, accountability and just reparation for the thousands of victims of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the region. The victims of the ISIS-related conflict have not been well included in the advance towards political or judicial procedures.
In their final declaration, they explained that “the platform advocates for a process of criminal justice in NES in conformity with the requirements of fair trial guarantees as well as the meaningful involvement of victims as part of their right to effective remedy.”
It will be governed by a committee of 13 members: men, and women, representing the different minorities, including Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, and Christians. A steering committee of three members has also been elected. In their founding document, the committee formulated 11 main demands for ISIS victims, notably the need:
- to be part of any judicial process
- for support from the international community
- for processes to be conducted according to international judicial standards, and
- for crimes to be investigated and documented, notably the cases of missing persons.
“This achievement is a start of an important process for all the victims and for peace in the region: victims of armed conflicts and their families are at the core of any recovering process for the community and their role is pivotal for any meaningful transitional justice in the post-conflict era” said Mehmet Balci, Fight for Humanity Co-Director.
The committee will meet again to define the actions to be undertaken, notably training of victims’ organizations on international justice mechanisms, victims’ rights and the advocacy initiatives. The platform is also expected to establish local antennas in North East Syria. Fight For Humanity will continue to support this platform, through capacity building and advocacy efforts.
This founding meeting, organized by Human Rights Defense Initiative, with the support of Fight for Humanity and Medico International, follows a series of meetings with civil society organizations defending the rights of conflict victims in North East Syria. In August 2020, Fight for Humanity organized an exchange between Syrian organizations and members of the Coalition for Just Reparations (C4JR), an alliance of Iraqi civil society organizations. This process began following a 2019 experts' meeting in Geneva, on the legal solutions for members of the Islamic State detained in Syria.