Sweden and France launch joint task force to prosecute ISIS fighters over Yazidi genocide
Joint investigation team will avoid the need to interview victims twice
Authorities in Sweden and France have launched a joint team to investigate atrocities committed by ISIS against the Yazidi community.
Europe's crime agency, Eurojust, has set up the team to prosecute foreign terrorist fighters for their persecution of the Yazidi population.
More than 10,000 Yazidis were killed when ISIS swept through northern Iraq in 2014 and about 7,000 women and girls were enslaved, many of whom are still missing.
"The main aim of the team will be to identify foreign terrorist fighters who were involved in core international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, primarily perpetrated against members of the Yazidi minority during the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, in view of potential prosecution," Eurojust said.
"The team will also focus on identifying victims and witnesses of these crimes committed by foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq."
The joint initiative aims to share information and evidence more swiftly and avoid several interviews of the same victims.
Investigations in the two countries are ongoing and are co-ordinated by Eurojust through the Swedish and French authorities, with the support of the Genocide Network Secretariat, hosted by Eurojust.
Eurojust is assisting the countries in determining the most suitable jurisdiction for prosecution and is providing advice to prevent several legal actions against perpetrators for the same offence.
The authorities involved in the team will be co-operating with the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS in Iraq (Unitad).
"The organisation holds a significant amount of evidence and expertise in investigating core international crimes, which may be crucial in establishing the crimes committed," Eurojust said.
"The investigative efforts of the team will be of added value to the judiciary in other EU member states or third countries, who want to end the impunity of foreign terrorist fighters involved in core international crimes such as slavery or sexual violence against members of the Yazidi community.
"Combating impunity for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity is the principal goal of the Genocide Network at Eurojust. It actively supports judicial authorities who are bringing cumulative charges for terrorism and core international crimes, in order to get justice done."
Last year Germany became the first country to convict an ISIS member for genocide against the Yazidi community.
It was the first time a court had used the word "genocide" to describe what happened to the Yazidi community.
Germany has used the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows for prosecution even if alleged offences were committed in a foreign country.
ISIS massacred thousands of Yazidi men and older women in 2014 and left them in mass graves.
The militants then took young boys to train as child soldiers and girls as sex slaves.
Unitad, is working to exhume the mass graves left by the terrorist group.
There are more than 200 mass graves in Iraq attributed to ISIS, thought to contain up to 12,000 bodies.
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