August third marks six years since Da’esh began the violence of their genocidal campaign against the Yazidis in northern Iraq. Yazidis around Australia commemorated in their own ways and events were held around the world.
Frustratingly, Australia is no closer to holding perpetrators of this genocide to account for their crimes. Despite giving strong evidence to the Australian Parliament, and the Joint Parliamentary Committee making recommendations on Australia’s obligations to prosecute these crimes according to international law, the Minister passed new legislation revoking the citizenship of dual nationals without any consideration for the evidence of their perpetrating war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide including sexual violence.
Despite the insecurity caused by Turkey’s ongoing offensive operations in Yazidi areas in both Syria and Iraq, there has been no consistency to family reunion immigration. However, it is good some more Yazidis continue to find safety in Australia.
Funding cuts to social and community services for survivors of trauma and other refugee settlement services severely affect the delivery of vital support to this, and other refugee communities who have been so grossly affected by war and terrorism. These people are the front line and governments who say they want to respond to such dangers must do so by responding with compassion and love to these very human and very present consequences of war. Furthermore, the Home Affairs department remains locked in its own bureaucracy, so far refusing to provide funds for the required access to justice programs here in Australia.
But it is hoped that with a new commissioner heading the Australian Federal Police, there is room for movement. Commissioner Reece Kershaw had significant experience in UN peacekeeping before taking up the top job with the federal police. Perhaps he will be able to make enough changes within that department to ensure police prioritise the investigation and charging of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity as appropriate, including sexual violence, alongside any terrorism related offences that are investigated of Australia’s foreign fighters moving into the future.