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There have been calls for ISIS massacres and other abuses of religious and ethnic minorities in the areas it controls to be recognised as ‘genocide’. A Commons debate on ‘Recognition of genocide by Daesh against Yazidis, Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities’ on Wednesday 20 April 2016 calls on the Government to refer the ‘genocide’ to the UN Security Council, in order to give the International Criminal Court (ICC) jurisdiction.

Under the 1948 Genocide Convention, genocide is defined as mass killings or other acts intended to destroy a particular group of people. States must prevent or punish genocide, individually or through the UN, and the ICC can be involved if it has jurisdiction (which it has so far concluded it does not).

In the UK there is no clear process for officially recognising events as genocide, but the UK can prosecute people for genocide even if it took place outside the UK (after 1991).

There have been many instances where ISIS abuses of Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims may amount to genocide; indeed it may be part of the ISIS strategy to commit the most serious atrocities possible.

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’.

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