Secretary of State John Kerry has finally concluded that the Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, reports Fox News.
Kerry's determination, set to be announced today, will not obligate the United States to take additional action against ISIS militants, however, and does not prejudge any prosecution against its members.
A day after the State Department said Kerry would miss the March 17 deadline, unnamed officials said Kerry had completed his review and determined that Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups are indeed victims of genocide. The House this week passed a nonbinding resolution by a unanimous vote condemning ISIS atrocities as genocide.
Fox reported that
Lawmakers and others who have advocated for the finding had sharply criticized the department's disclosure Wednesday that deadline would be missed. The officials said Kerry concluded his review just hours after that announcement and that the criticism had not affected his decision.
In making his decision, Kerry weighed whether the militants' targeting of Christians and other minorities meets the definition of genocide, according to the U.N. Convention: "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."
His determination, however, does not carry the legal implication of a verdict of guilt or conviction on genocide charges, the officials said. Such decisions will be left to international or other tribunals.
Several groups such as The Knights of Columbus and In Defense of Christians had previously documented what they said is clear evidence that the legal standard for a determination of genocide has been met. "There is only one legal term for this, and that is genocide," said Knights of Columbus chief Carl Anderson. That organization's 280-page report identified more than 1,100 Christians whom they said had been killed by ISIS. In addition, it detailed numerous instances of people kidnapped, raped, enslaved, and driven from their homes, along with the destruction of churches.
Kerry's determination marks only the second time a U.S. administration has declared that a genocide was being committed during an ongoing conflict. The other instance was in 2004 when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell decided that atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region constituted genocide.