Congress has passed a bill which will ensure that adequate assistance is provided to Christians who have been mistreated by ISIS militants. The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (HR 390) will provide financial assistance to Yazidis and others who have been persecuted by the Islamic State during its occupation of Iraq. It will also seek to assist in the prosecution of the perpetrators, who have displaced, raped and killed thousands of religious minority members between 2014-2017.
The bill was first introduced by House Representative Chris Smith of New Jersey in 2016, but was more recently re-introduced with the help of Democratic cosponsor Rep. Anna Eshoo of California in 2017.
“I’m very thankful for Representative Smith because he knows the needs of these folks,” said David Curry, the CEO of Chrisitan Persecution organization, Open Doors, as reported by Mission Network News. “We’re glad to see this step taken, but it does take too long when it seems so obvious that a great crime was committed against these minority groups.”
The bill will now be passed to President Trump for signing. Once that is done, funds will be released to help organizations working on the ground with Christians and Yazidis.
According to the official text, HR 390 will enable the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide “assistance, including financial and technical assistance, to support the efforts of entities, including nongovernmental organizations with expertise in international criminal investigations and law, to address crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes in Iraq since January 2014.”
This will be enacted through “conducting criminal investigations” as well as “developing indigenous investigative and judicial skills to adjudicate cases consistent with due process and respect for the rule of law.”
As part of the criteria laid out in the bill, evidence will also be “collected and preserved” for use in future prosecutions of ISIS militants.
The brutal subjugation of the Yazidi population at the hands of ISIS led to thousands of deaths and forced around half a million to flee the country.