Iraq: Flexibility is needed for Yazidi Survivors say NGOs
Date and time
Geneva, 13 April 2023 - Following the recent imposition for Yazidi Survivors to file a judicial complaint to become eligible for the national administrative programme on reparations, NGOs and experts warn that this practice could undermine the ground-breaking survivors law adopted in Iraq in March 2021.
In a statement on the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors Law, NGOs reiterate the fact that the administrative mechanism provided by the law to facilitate access to reparation is a crucial avenue for victims of mass human rights violations - particularly for survivors of sexual violence. These programmes offer critical advantages over judicial remedies and processes, including easier access and simpler evidentiary thresholds.
“Survivors of conflict-related sexual violence who wish to apply for reparation measures through an administrative programme should not be required to file a criminal complaint”, said Mariana Goetz, Head of Technical Assistance at Global Survivors Fund. “Not only does this requirement risk overloading the judicial system, but it may contradict the victims’ decisions on whether to take their case to court. We know there are huge social and other obstacles for survivors to report sexual violence to the police. It could cause further stigma or re-victimisation and we believe it goes against international standards on the right to an effective remedy under international human rights law.”
Given the psychosocial impact of being required to re-count facts, it is critical that evidentiary requirements are not burdensome for survivors. A relaxed standard is even more critical for victims of conflict-related sexual violence, as the crimes are often committed in the absence of witnesses and are difficult to prove.
Finally, the implementation of the Yazidi Survivors’ Law in Iraq should be designed in consultation with survivors to avoid re-traumatisation.
Ceasefire Centre for Civilian Rights
The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
Coalition for Just Reparations
Fédération Internationale pour les droits humains (FIDH)
Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P)
Global Survivors Fund (GSF)
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)
Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation
Elizabeth Bohart, Strategic Adviser and Board Member of Nadia’s Initiative
Dr. Norbert Wühler, Co-Chair of the Board of the Global Survivors Fund