Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is about to begin, what will be her biggest trial to date, against the Islamic State, otherwise known as ISIS.
The lawyer spoke to NBC earlier this week about her decision to represent the Yazidi people and UN Ambassador, Nadia Murad, aiming to bring ISIL to justice for their crimes against humanity.
IS militants have killed, raped and enslaved thousands of Yazidis since their onslaught began in 2014.
Tortured and made to be victims of unspeakable crimes, the Yazidi people have been demonised for their religious practice, which contains elements of Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism.
According to an ongoing report issued by the UN that looked into the Yazidi Genocide, ISIS is guilty of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“ISIS has sought to erase the Yazidis through killings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community,” according to the report.”
The Commission said that ISIS has referred to the Yazidi as a “pagan minority [whose] existence […] Muslims should question”, adding that “their women could be enslaved […] as spoils of war.”
“ISIS has made no secret of its intent to destroy the Yazidis of Sinjar, and that is one of the elements that allowed us to conclude their actions amount to genocide,” said Commissioner Carla del Ponte.
Nadia Murad, 23, was taken by ISIS in 2014 and held captive while her mother, father, brothers and stepbrothers, were executed.
Murad escaped her captives after a hellish three months and is the reason why Clooney has taken up the cause.
Sitting before the United Nations last week, Clooney spoke about the crimes commited against Nadia and her people, before introducing Nadia to the committee as the latest UN Ambassador.
The lawyer condemned the UN for failing to protect women like Nadia and allowing these genocides to take place.
“This is the first time I have spoken in this chamber. I wish I could say I’m proud to be here but I am not. I am ashamed as a supporter of the United Nations that states are failing to prevent or even punish genocide because they find that their own interests get in the way.”
“I’m ashamed as a woman that girls like Nadia can have their bodies sold and used as battlefields,” said Clooney, addressing UN officials.
“I’m ashamed as a human being that we can ignore their cries for help.”
She told delegates: “Make no mistake: what Nadia has told us about is genocide, and genocide doesn’t happen by accident. You have to plan it.”
Asked why she is taking on this case, and whether she understood the grave risk to her own personal safety, Clooney answered;
“They (ISIS) are brainwashing people and I think one of the ways to take action against that is to expose their brutality and their corruption and partly, you can do that through trials.”
“I don’t think anybody can feel that they’re being courageous compared to what Nadia’s doing and what all women who’ve suffered what Nadia’s suffered are doing.”
The ultimate goal of the trial is to push the International Criminal Court into prosecuting those responsible for the crimes committed against the Yazidis.
“Victims have all said they actually want their day in court,” Clooney told NBC News. “It’s not going to be easy, but we’re working on multiple fronts.”