Parliamentary Debate on Genocide

Today we debated a motion that 'the House believes that Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq and Syria are suffering Genocide at the hands of Daesh.'

It is profoundly disturbing that people in Iraq and Syria are being attacked for belonging to different religious and ethnic groups. Daesh has assassinated church leaders, committed torture, kidnapping, mass murders, sexual abuse, systematic rape and sexual enslavement of women and girls.

Daesh's official propaganda videos and newspapers document its specific intent to destroy Christian and Yazidi groups in Syria and Iraq. I attended an event on Tuesday where eye-witnesses talked of former public buildings bring used to imprison women and girls as young as 9 years old and Daesh men systematically raping them.

The UK has a rich tradition of helping and advocating on behalf of the world's most vulnerable people. Whenever a crisis or disaster occurs, the UK Government and the British people are quick to respond and lead the charge, providing humanitarian aid and financial assistance quickly.

My question to Parliament today was 'Why is it then, that despite being one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and having the responsibility of a unique role in the international community, we have been slow and appear reluctant to trigger the legal mechanisms that exists within the international judicial system?'

The legal designation of genocide against Daesh relies first on action by the UN Security Council, and the UK Government has a role to play.

Already the US Secretary of State John Kerry, the US House of Representatives, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe have all described ISIS atrocities as 'genocide'. It is time that the UK joins these countries to politically recognise these mass killings as such.

British people are horrified by what they see and hear regarding the treatment of these minority groups in Syria and Iraq, and they rightfully expect this House to use whatever tools are available to work to bring this to an end and achieve peace in this troubled part of the world.

A tool available to the UK is to recognise this as genocide, and to use our position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council so that this situation can be investigated by the International Criminal Court. People are being brutalised, raped and murdered. We have a moral responsibility to seek justice for these people.

The article provides an overview of the Government's response to the genocide debate that took place on Wednesday.