UPDATE: The official declaration has been made.
"Naming these crimes is important," says Kerry, "but what is essential is to stop them." He ignores reporters questions at end of statement.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 17, 2016
Kerry says full facts about Daesh/ISIS must go to competent courts or tribunals. Says US will work to provide evidence of the atrocities.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 17, 2016
Kerry says his finding of genocide is meant to show the US recognizes "the despicable nature of crimes" committed by Daesh/ISIS.— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 17, 2016
More on the requirements after officially declaring genocide:
A 1948 treaty, signed by the US and 147 other nations, declares genocide a crime under international law and states that countries need to work together "to liberate mankind from this odious scourge."
In any case, there are still issues that the US has to work through, considering that a genocide designation could "require an adjustment to US military strategy," according to Yahoo.
Yahoo News reported last year that the US "has historically been reluctant to invoke the genocide treaty because of concerns it might create a moral, if not a legal, obligation to act in ways that previous administrations were not prepared to do."
Secretary of State John Kerry has determined ISIS is committing genocide against Christians in Iraq and Syria and will make an official announcement and declaration of genocide later today. Typically a genocide declaration requires further action to stop it, but unfortunately it looks as though Kerry will not commit additional resources to do so. An official genocide declaration requires countries to work together "to liberate mankind from this odious scourge" Details from the Associated Press:
Secretary of State John Kerry has determined that the Islamic State group is committing genocide against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. officials, as he acted to meet a congressional deadline.
But Kerry's finding, set to be announced Thursday, will not obligate the United States to take additional action against ISIS militants and does not prejudge any prosecution against its members, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly preview Kerry's decision.
It was reported late last week Kerry would miss the deadline for the declaration, which was slated for today. Last week the House voted unanimously 393-0 to declare the actions of ISIS against Christians a genocide. European leaders, the Pope and Hillary Clinton have also been calling for the official declaration to be made.
Kerry has been urged by a number of legal organizations representing persecuted Christians in the Middle East to declare the genocide and have offered the State Department the legal evidence for doing so.
"As many governments, legislative bodies, non-governmental organizations, and world leaders have already concluded, the available evidence demonstrates that ISIS’s actions rise to the level of genocide. Furthermore, we understand that recent information received from on-the-ground interviews in the region and other sources establishes without question that ISIS is committing genocide and makes clear that claims that it is offering jizya or dhimmi status are a publicity stunt or extortion payments that pervert these classical terms,” a letter sent to Kerry last week by Andrews Kurths LPP and submitted on behalf of The Philos Project, The American Mesopotamian Organization, The Assyrian Aid Society of America and The Iraqi Christian Relief Council, states.
“The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (“Genocide Convention”) prohibits the intentional destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic or religious group by, inter alia, killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction,” the letter continues. “Publicly available information strongly suggests that ISIS is subjecting Assyrian and other Iraqi and Syrian Christians living in areas under the control of ISIS to genocidal conditions. ISIS purportedly offers the Assyrian Christians three options: (1) convert to Islam, (2) assume dhimmi status and pay an associated jizya tax, or (3) leave the territory. The facts suggest that, in reality, there is no choice. Those who refuse or are otherwise unable to comply are executed, and in many instances the option of paying the jizya tax is not made available. The evidence therefore suggests that the jizya tax is not a real option and may be just a pretext to justify ISIS’s atrocities. That ISIS purports to permit Assyrian Christians to pay a jizya tax to avoid conversion, execution, or displacement does not preclude a finding that ISIS’s persecution of such Christians violates the Genocide Convention.”
The Knights of Columbus also submitted a nearly 300-page report to Kerry and the State Department last week laying out a detailed case for genocide declaration.
"ISIS is committing genocide — the “crime of crimes” — against Christians and other religious groups in Syria, Iraq and Libya. It is time for the United States to join the rest of the world by naming it and by taking action against it as required by law," the report states. ISIS’ activities are well known. Killings, rapes, torture, kidnappings, bombings and the destruction of religious property and monuments are, in some instances, a matter of public record. The European Parliament, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Iraqi and Kurdish governments have labeled ISIS’ actions genocide. Political leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights — have done likewise."
Ten years ago, there were nearly two million Christians living in Iraq and Syria. Today there are just 250,000.
Stay tuned for more information...
This post has been updated with additional information.