Update: As of 8:34 AM EST AP reports John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State’s atrocities against Christians and Yazidi populations in the Middle East amount to genocide.
He held a press conference at the State Department, where he said that ISIS is “genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions”. “Naming these crimes is important,” Mr Kerry said, “but what is essential is to stop them… The fact is that Daesh
He did not say whether his declaration would lead to increased US action in the Middle East, but he did call for an independent international investigation, and for criminal charges to be brought against those thought to be responsible for the atrocities.
The March 17 deadline was set as part of a 2015 government bill on spending, and Secretary of State John Kerry had originally requested more time.
“Determining these kinds of legal definitions such as genocide, crimes against humanity, requires a very detailed, rigorous legal analysis,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will discuss Congress’ response in a news conference also March 17.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed a concurrent resolution on Monday declaring the persecution of Christians in Iraq genocide. It has yet to pass the Senate. Even if it does, it will not hold the full force of law as with a congressional bill.
The strict legal classification of genocide is a specific and technical designation that can only be given if the atrocities fit certain criteria.
According to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948), genocide is defined as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1 ; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
For more information on the Islamic State and its campaign of violence against minorities, see Clarion Project’s Special Report: The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL).