UN sets up probe of Daesh atrocities

Amal Clooney arrives for a security council meeting at U.N. headquarters during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S. on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 22 September 2017

UN sets up probe of Daesh atrocities

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously decided to set up a team to collect evidence on the massacres of Iraq’s Yazidi minority and other atrocities committed by Daesh in Iraq.
Britain drafted the resolution to help bring perpetrators of Daesh war crimes to justice — a cause championed by international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who was present for the vote. The Lebanese-British lawyer represents Yazidi women who were taken hostage and used as sex slaves by Daesh as it swept into Iraq’s Sinjar region in August 2014.
Clooney, sat next to Nadia Murad, a Yazidi survivor of Daesh enslavement, as the council voted on the measure.
The United Nations has described the massacres of the Yazidis as genocide and Clooney has over the past month made high-profile appearances before the world body to demand action.
“Why is it that nothing has been done?” Clooney told a UN event in March.
“Mass graves lie unprotected and unexhumed. Witnesses are fleeing and not one ISIS militant has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world,” she said.
After months of pressure Iraq in August agreed to the investigation, which will “support domestic efforts to hold” IS jihadists accountable by “collecting, preserving and storing evidence” in Iraq, the resolution said.
Under the measure, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will within 60 days present to the council details on the mandate of the investigative panel that will work with their Iraqi counterparts.
The investigators will gather evidence on “war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide” for use in Iraqi courts, according to the resolution.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley described the resolution as “a major first step toward addressing the death, suffering, and injury of the victims of crimes committed by ISIS in Iraq — crimes that include genocide.”
IS fighters have been on the run in Iraq since the recapture of Mosul, Iraq’s second city in July, which had been under IS rule since 2014.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the August 2014 massacre in Sinjar, and UN rights investigations have documented horrific accounts of abuse suffered by women and girls.
Around 3,000 women are believed to remain in IS captivity.
Human Rights Watch criticized the resolution as a missed opportunity by the council to address atrocities committed by Iraqi and other forces.
“No one denies the importance of tackling the widespread atrocities by ISIS in Iraq, but ignoring abuses by Iraqi and international forces is not only flawed, it’s shortsighted,” said HRW’s justice expert Balkees Jarrah.
The Iraqi government worked with Britain to draft the measure.


Democrats announce two impeachment charges against Trump

Updated 10 min 20 sec ago

Democrats announce two impeachment charges against Trump

  • The president is alleged to have wielded the power of the presidency for personal and political gain
  • "The evidence of the president's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested," said House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff

WASHINGTON: Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment Tuesday against US President Donald Trump after weeks of arguing there is overwhelming evidence that the US leader abused his office and deserves to be removed.
If the charges -- abuse of power and obstruction of Congress -- are approved by the full House of Representatives in a vote expected next week, it would put Trump in the historic position of being the third US leader ever impeached and placed on trial in the Senate.
"Our president holds the ultimate public trust," said House Judiciary Committee Jerry Nadler.
"When he betrays that trust and puts himself before country, he endangers the constitution, he endangers our democracy and he endangers our national security."
Nadler, in a solemn and deeply serious moment for the nation, was joined by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the US Capitol to lay out the charges facing Trump.
The president is alleged to have wielded the power of the presidency for personal and political gain by pressuring Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 US election.
His accusers say he conditioned vital military aid and a much-sought White House meeting on Kiev announcing it would investigate Democratic former vice president Joe Biden, who is the frontrunner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
He also pressed his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to probe a debunked Kremlin conspiracy theory that it was Kiev, and not Moscow, that interfered in the 2016 US election.
The charges also focus on Trump's efforts to block Congress from fully investigating his actions -- which Democrats see as a violation of its constitutional right to conduct oversight of the executive branch.
"The evidence of the president's misconduct is overwhelming and uncontested," said House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who oversaw weeks of public hearings in which witnesses including Trump administration officials and US diplomats testified about the pressure on Ukraine.
"To do nothing would make ourselves complicit in the president's abuse of his high office," Schiff said, adding that Trump's "misconduct goes to the heart of whether we can conduct a free and fair election in 2020."
Trump, who has long assailed the Democrats for pursuing impeachment, maintained his fighting posture early Tuesday, tweeting that the effort to oust him as "sheer Political Madness!"
Democrats on Monday laid out their case for ouster with a nearly 10-hour public hearing in which they declared Trump a "clear and present danger" to national security.
It is widely understood that Democrats were debating whether to unveil a third article of impeachment -- obstruction of justice -- against Trump, but concluded it would be better to keep the charges narrowly focused on Trump's Ukraine pressure effort.
Should Trump be impeached, as expected, he faces a weeks-long trial in January in the US Senate, which is controlled by members of his Republican Party.
Removal from office is unlikely, given that conviction requires a two-thirds vote in the 100-member chamber, and no Republicans have yet signaled they would side with Democrats against the president.