Tuesday, May 9, 2023

I do not question THE VANGUARD's ethics, just their focus

A 3 hours podcast from THE VANGUARD on . . . Krystal Ball's wedding.

What the heck?

You cannot talk Iraq.  We have Crooked Clarence Thomas.  We have attacks on LGBTQ+ people.

And you are wasting time on attending a wedding?

I have not commented on the United Kingdom because I have tried not to be superficial.

But I think doing a multi-hour podcast on Ms. Ball's wedding is disgusting.

Are you trying to be TMZ?

Let me know when you want to go to work and I will try to listen again.  But I do not have time, little boys, to waste on weddings.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:
Tuesday, May 9, 2023.  Crooked Clarence Thomas and his wife Ginni remain filth that needs to removed from halls of power, Jonathan Turley remains silent on the issue, Cori Bush takes the issue to the people, Human Rights Watch notes the new plight of the Yazidis, and much more.

AMY GOODMAN: Calls are growing for new ethics rules for Supreme Court justices as more information emerges about Justice Clarence Thomas’s secretive financial dealings with the Republican activist billionaire Harlan Crow. Last month, ProPublica revealed Thomas had failed to report frequent luxury trips paid for by Crow, including trips aboard Crow’s private yacht and jet. Thomas also failed to disclose he had sold property to Crow, including a home where Thomas’s mother now lives rent-free. In addition, Crow paid for the private school tuition for Thomas’s grandnephew, including a year at Hidden Lake Academy in Georgia, where the tuition is over $6,000 a month.

Also, The Washington Post has reported conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the Judicial Education Project to secretly pay Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, $80,000 for consulting work over a decade ago, without mentioning her name. Months later, the nonprofit filed an amicus brief in the landmark case Shelby County v. Holder, in which Clarence Thomas cast the deciding 5-to-4 vote that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Despite these revelations, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has refused calls to issue new ethics rules for justices. And then we’ve got the case of his wife getting over $10 million for being a headhunter for elite firms. This is Chief Justice Roberts’ wife. And these law firms often have cases before the Supreme Court.

We’re joined now by Dahlia Lithwick, who covers the courts and the law for Slate and hosts the podcast Amicus. Her recent book is titled Lady Justice: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America. Joining us from Seattle, where she spoke at the Crosscut Ideas Festival.

Dahlia, thanks for joining us again on Democracy Now! Can you respond to this avalanche of information, starting with Justice Thomas but not ending with him?

DAHLIA LITHWICK: It’s such an amazing story, Amy, and it is really, in some sense, surprising to me that a story that I thought would be a one-day story, when we heard the superyacht story and the travel story, has turned into weeks of sustained focus as investigative reporters for a whole bunch of outlets essentially say, “But that’s not all.”

And I think you’re quite right, the capstone of it, in some sense, were the stories at the very end of last week, both about Harlan Crow paying for Clarence Thomas’s grandnephew’s tuition, never, ever disclosed, despite the fact that Justice Thomas, earlier in his career, had disclosed that he was getting his tuition paid for. So he knew this required disclosure.

And then, in some sense, the thermonuclear story that came last Thursday night, that, as you said, Leonard Leo, who is sort of the front man for a whole bunch of groups that have worked to take over the court, was, quite literally, directing Kellyanne Conway to put money in Ginni Thomas’s pocket, and included a note that said, quote, “No mention of Ginni, of course.” He knew this was wrong. Nobody disputes it’s wrong. Now what we’re really doing is haggling about the price.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin interviewed on CNN by Jake Tapper Sunday.

JAKE TAPPER: So, because of the separation of powers, I believe, you’re not willing to subpoena the Chief Justice John Roberts. You’ve indicated that it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to pass any legislation that would impose an ethics code on the court. And you’ve said you don’t think the Justice Department should investigate Justice Thomas’s actions. So, in essence, aren’t you kind of throwing up your hands and saying the Supreme Court isn’t really accountable to anybody but themselves? There’s nothing you can do, even though you’re the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee?

SEN. DICK DURBIN: Not at all, Jake. Let me just tell you, the bottom line is this: Everything is on the table. Day after day, week after week, more and more disclosures about Justice Thomas. We cannot ignore them. The thing we’re going to do first, obviously, is to gather the evidence, the information that we need to draw our conclusions. I’m not ruling out anything.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Dahlia Lithwick, if you can respond?

DAHLIA LITHWICK: We’re in such a weird moment, Amy, historically, where, for some reason, Congress has taken the posture that they can’t do anything to regulate the court. And the court, conveniently, takes the same posture, that this is a separation of powers issue, a judicial independence issue.

It’s really useful to remember — and professor Steve Vladeck at UT Austin has been making this point for weeks — that Congress has regulated the court’s conduct for centuries. Congress has determined the jurisdiction of the justices. For a long time Congress forced the Supreme Court justices to, quote, “ride circuit,” travel around the country and hear cases. Congress has set the number of seats on the court. So the notion that Congress has no business intervening with how the judiciary works because that would be a separation of powers conflict is simply wrong.

And I think what you were hearing there from Senator Durbin is an understanding that now is not the time to stand back and let the courts say more or less what you talked about in your last segment: “The judiciary is a monarchy. It cannot be regulated by anyone other than itself.” It seems as though, between the hearing we had last week at the Judiciary Committee and the conversation we’re hearing over the weekend, that members of the Senate are beginning to understand that it is going to be incumbent on them to step in and issue some ethics rules or demand that the court issue ethics rules for itself — that’s the Angus King-Susan Collins bill — but that the notion that there’s absolutely nothing that the other branches of government can do, because the court is made of magic and unicorn and rainbows, I think that era is now over.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, federal judges are much more strictly regulated. Is that right? And aren’t there judges across the country that are demanding that the Supreme Court abide by similar rules?

DAHLIA LITHWICK: It’s been such an amazing revelation. We heard over the weekend that there was a lower federal court judge, a district court judge, who was asking the body that — the Judicial Conference, that enforces rules, to do something about Justice Thomas a decade ago.

So, yes, it is absolutely true that lower court judges are bound by really strict rules. You can’t buy them a cup of coffee. I know federal judges who won’t get in an elevator with someone who’s got business before them. They are very careful to police themselves, because they understand — and this is in The Federalist Papers — that the only power the judiciary has is public approbation, and that that is an incredibly fragile thing.

And so, the idea that the chief justice put forth when he said he was not going to come testify before that hearing last week, that somehow it’s unreasonable to ask judges to police themselves, or that they should be left to determine their own ethics rules, it’s not just a question of, you know, this looks kind of hinky. It’s that they are undermining the integrity of the judicial branch. Every judge except the Supreme Court justices have to abide by the ethical canons and by the statutes. The notion that there’s some sphere of privacy in Clarence Thomas’s personal life, or that Leonard Leo said, “Oh, you know, we didn’t disclose this donation — this payment to Ginni Thomas because the gossips were going to go after Clarence Thomas,” that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. They are meant to use these laws to guide their conduct, and they choose not to.

It's May 9th and each day brings new scandals regarding Clarence Thomas.  You'd never know that if you followed noted transphobe Jonathan Turley who poses as a legal scholar.  The biggest legal news in the country and Turley can't write about it this month or even Tweet about it.  He can Tweet about SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and Bud Light and endlessly about Hunter Biden but now about Clarry Thomas.  Crooked Clarence isn't an issue.

We need to note something here.  At this point, Clarence is just tawdry.  He is a public servant who has taken private money and lied about it over and over.  That should be the end of it for him.  He's spitting on the taxpayers and farming out his job.  He's not fit to serve on any court.

+ After the Citizens United decision in 2010, Harlan Crow (sugar daddy to Clarence Thomas and so many others) and his family’s average yearly political contributions soared by 862%.

+ In 2002, Clarence Thomas disclosed a gift of free tires valued at $1,200. He subsequently neglected to disclose a gift of $150,000 in tuition payments to two private schools for his adopted son. The tuition was paid by Harlan Crow.

+ Senator Mike Lee: “Clarence Thomas is one of the most influential justices in American history.” Don’t know about that assessment, Senator, but he is certainly one of the most influenced.

+ Roy Wood, Jr.: “We can all see what Clarence Thomas is, but he belongs to billionaire Harlan Crow. That’s what an NFT is.”

+ Jane Roberts, wife of the Chief Justice, has pocketed at least $10.3 million in commissions by placing lawyers at elite law firms. At least one of those firms argued a case before the Supreme Court after paying Roberts’ wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.

+ The Supreme Court has resolved only 15 cases on its docket as of May 1st, leaving 75% of its caseload this term still undecided. No term in the last 100 years has had fewer decisions at this point. (They probably want to be safely afloat on a luxury cruise before these decisions are published.)

+ Many liberals want to focus on Thomas’ “failure to disclose” his gifts, which distracts from the real issue which is: bribery. Thomas’ “failure to disclose” is actually a little endearing since, like many people raised in poverty who come into wealth, it means he may feel some residual consciousness of guilt about his good fortune–as opposed to the others who freely disclose their bribes, knowing they’re fully immune from any legal or ethical repercussions.

+ Here’s the passive Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee, on John Roberts, after Roberts was a no-show at a hearing on judicial ethics: “I respect him. I really think this is his court and he can make of it what he wishes.” Deanna Durbin has more energy than Dick and she’s been dead for 20 years.

+ If the Supreme Court had to adopt and abide by a Code of Ethics, it would defeat the primary goal of becoming a justice. Think I’m joking? Here’s Clarence Thomas in 2001 complaining about the meager pay of being a Supreme Court Justice: “The job is not worth doing for what they pay.”


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has a corruption problem. For decades, billionaire Republican megadonor Harlan Crow – a board member of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which has extensive business before the Court – has plied Thomas and his family with expensive gifts, including private jet flights, yacht cruises, luxury vacations; the purchase of Thomas’ mother’s home; and expensive private school tuition payments. Thomas failed to disclose any of these kickbacks, committing what experts at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center have described as “blatant violations” of federal disclosure law.

An even more explicit instance of corruption was recently uncovered featuring Leonard Leo, a conservative activist who helped engineer the hard right’s takeover of the Supreme Court. In 2012, right before one of Leo’s organizations filed a Supreme Court brief in a landmark voting rights case, Leo instructed Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway to use money from the organization to pay Justice Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, under the table. He told Conway to “give” Ginni Thomas “another” $25,000, while emphasizing that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

In 1969, Justice Abe Fortas resigned his seat at the Supreme Court for accepting $15,000 in exchange for a series of paid lectures at American University. Part of the Fortas scandal also involved news of him accepting a stipend for doing legal work for a very rich friend (money he had actually returned when the benefactor was indicted and before the outcry).

None of Fortas’ colleagues defended him for this. No one blamed the press or even the Nixon administration (which very much orchestrated the ouster). It was widely understood that Fortas had done something that undermined the public legitimacy and independence of the court and that he had to go.

Over the past few weeks we have learned that Justice Clarence Thomas took multiple luxury vacations, valued in millions of dollars , over many years, paid for by Harlan Crow, a billionaire GOP donor who has business before the court. We know Crow had also contributed the $500,000 seed money that became Ginni Thomas’ Liberty Central, which paid her salary. We also know that Harlan Crow purchased the home in which Justice Thomas’ mother currently resides, rent free. And late last week, we learned that Crow paid years’ worth of private school tuition for Thomas’ grandnephew, Mark Martin, of whom Thomas had legal custody and whom Thomas was, as he put it, “raising as a son.” Justice Thomas knew such gifts needed to be disclosed because he did so with another tuition payment gifted to Martin in 2002. But he did not report the tuition Crow paid.

Last Thursday, we also learned that in January in 2012, Leonard Leo arranged to have Ginni Thomas paid $25,000 for consulting work through Kellyanne Conway’s polling company. The funds came from the Judicial Education Project, a dark money group that listed its address as a UPS Store in Georgetown. Leo’s instruction to Conway asked her to funnel the cash to Ginni, and took care to note that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.” A few short months later, the Judicial Education Project filed an amicus brief in Shelby County v. Holder, arguing for the dismantlement of the Voting Rights Act. Shelby County was a 5-4 decision, with Justice Thomas in the majority.

Let's stay with Harlan Crowe and how he bribes to corrupt the judicial process.  Susan Rinkunas (JEZEBEL) reports:

 We regret to inform you that the nonsense abortion pill lawsuit is not only still active, but will be heard next on May 17 by a very unfortunate group of judges—including James Ho, who has connections to both Justice Clarence Thomas and his Republican megadonor benefactor, Harlan Crow.

Ho is the Federalist Society/MAGA darling of Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals who’s written very aggressive opinions, including one from 2019 in which he said that “abortion is the immoral, tragic, and violent taking of innocent human life.” Former President Donald Trump nominated the Texas judge to the appeals court in 2017, and Ho was sworn in in January 2018 by Justice Thomas himself—in Crow’s private library.

ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott resurfaced the photo of the ceremony the day the outlet uncovered Crow’s financing of luxury travel for Thomas, including many private jet trips. He tweeted: “A detail from our story today: Ted Cruz tweeted this photo of Clarence Thomas swearing in 5th Circuit Judge James Ho. Turns out this is in billionaire Harlan Crow’s private library, and flight records show Crow’s jet dispatched to DC and back to Dallas before + after this event.”

It appears that Thomas—and maybe Cruz—took Crow’s jet to this little swearing-in.

These judges are bought and sold.  Clarence Thomas has disgraced the Court but Jonathan Turley wants to bury his head in the sand because even he, idiot that he is, grasps that his April defense of Clarence, his minimizing of Clarence, isn't going to fly.  All they can hope for is to remain silent and hope something else comes along to distract from the corruption.

US House Rep Cori Bush isn't remaining silent.  Jacob Barker (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH) reports:

Labeling the nation’s highest court a “cesspool of corruption and misconduct,” U.S. Rep. Cori Bush called Monday for a new U.S. Supreme Court code of ethics and the impeachment of Justice Clarence Thomas following reports the veteran justice accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from a wealthy benefactor.

Bush joined progressive activists in downtown St. Louis to call for a host of changes to the Supreme Court meant to weaken the conservative supermajority that last year overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion access. Her remarks are part of a pressure campaign from some Democrats to institute ethics rules for the high court or even to remove Thomas following a report Politico published a month ago detailing lavish vacations and other gifts the justice accepted from prominent GOP donor and billionaire Harlan Crow.

The revelations of Crow’s largesse to the Thomas family adds to the growing ethical questions swirling around the justice. Last year, media outlets obtained text messages from Thomas’s wife, Ginni, urging officials in President Donald Trump’s White House to find ways to nullify the 2020 election results. Clarence Thomas later was the lone justice to side with Trump as the former president sought to block the release of documents to Congress’ Jan. 6 investigative panel.

Bush, D-St. Louis, spoke as part of a 20-plus-city bus tour from “Just Majority,” a Supreme Court reform initiative from a coalition of 30 or so progressive groups launched last month after the latest Thomas controversy.

“The current Supreme Court is a lawless institution that is dangerous to our democracy and it is time for Congress to act,” Bush told media gathered on Kiener Plaza Monday afternoon.

Among her calls to action were term limits for Supreme Court justices and a new code of ethics backed by other Democrats. Lower courts have ethics rules that govern gifts and interactions with people impacted by court decisions, but the Supreme Court has no binding code of ethics.

Speaking of Ginni Thomas' January 6th friends, Jacob Crosse (WSWS) reports:

On Monday 42-year-old Hitler-lover Hatchet Speed, a high-level US Navy reservist for more than 20 years and former military intelligence contractor, was sentenced to four years in prison for storming the Capitol on January 6, 2021, with members of the Proud Boys militia group.

Speed was not arrested on charges related to his violent actions in furtherance of Trump’s conspiracy until June 2022, well after a separate investigation into his purchase of thousand of dollars in illegal weaponry was underway. In that case, he was sentenced to three years in prison for stockpiling illegal silencers, which he planned on using in a kidnapping and assassination plot targeting Trump’s political enemies and Jewish people.

Speed was arrested last summer on charges related to storming and occupying the Capitol with the Proud Boys based on evidence obtained during taped conversations between him and an undercover FBI agent, who testified at Speed’s trial and sentencing.

In those recorded conversations, the Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran revealed himself to be a fanatical anti-Semite and admirer of Adolf Hitler—whom he called “one of the best people that’s ever been on this earth.” In 75 pages detailing some of the conversations between Speed and the undercover agent, the former US Navy soldier is described venting his hatred of Jews, immigrants and communists.

In the sentencing hearing on Monday, US District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, agreed with the prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation of four years in prison. McFadden had previously found Speed guilty of five charges related to his actions on January 6, including felony obstruction of Congress. The judge also sentenced Speed to three years of parole and ordered that Speed begin his prison sentence after the separate three-year prison term imposed on him earlier this year is completed.

In eight separate meetings beginning in February 2022 with an undercover FBI agent who posed as a “like-minded individual,” Speed revealed he joined the Proud Boys in the summer of 2020, after reading Mein Kampf, and subsequently participated in multiple “Stop the Steal” rallies. He also admitted to the agent that he stormed the Capitol, which he said “was always the plan.”

Speed also admitted that after the election he had purchased illegal silencers, which he called “solvent traps,” which he planned on using to execute Jewish people. “I think kidnappings are harder,” Speed mused to the agent during one of their conversations, “but they’re more effective. What I would love to see is you take somebody out, and they simply disappear. Nobody knows what happened to them.”

Turning to Iraq, Human Rights Watch notes:

Iraqi authorities have failed to pay financial compensation that thousands of Yazidis and others from the Sinjar district are entitled to under Iraqi law for destruction of and damage to their property both by the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Iraqi and US-led coalition military battles against them, Human Rights Watch said today. A US-led international coalition expelled ISIS from Sinjar in late 2015, but at least 200,000 Sinjaris continue to languish in displacement camps across northern Iraq.

“Without compensation, many Sinjaris lack the financial means to rebuild their homes and businesses, so returning home is simply not an option,” said Sarah Sanbar, Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi authorities should distribute funds already earmarked for compensation to help people go home and rebuild their lives.”

Sinjar, a mountainous district in northwestern Iraq, is home to a mixed population of Kurds, Arabs, and Yazidis, an ethnic and religious minority. As of 2023, the 200,000 Sinjaris who remain displaced includes 85 percent of the district’s Yazidi population. Many displaced people have been living in camps since 2014. Those who have returned face an unstable security situation and inadequate or nonexistent public services, including education, health care, water, and electricity.

To understand the barriers to their return, Human Rights Watch interviewed dozens of Sinjaris living in displaced camps in Duhok governorate; three Sinjaris who had returned to Sinjar; local government officials including the governor of Ninewa, Najim al-Joboury; a member of parliament representing Sinjar, Majid Shingali; Sinjar’s acting mayor, Naif Saido; a former Ninewa provincial council member; and a representative from the provincial government’s compensation office in Sinjar. Human Rights Watch also interviewed the former mayor of the Sinjar Self Administration, representatives of six civil society organizations; and two Western diplomats.

The only Sinjaris to receive compensation so far are a small number of Yazidis who applied under a law passed by the Iraqi government in 2021, the Yazidi Survivors Law, to provide compensation specifically for Yazidis and other ethnic minorities, including Turkmen, Christians, and Shabaks, who were summarily killedkidnappedenslaved, and raped by ISIS in 2014. Thousands of Yazidis remain displaced and 2,700 remain missing.

The first group of 420 Yazidi women received financial compensation under the Yazidi Survivors Law in February 2023. While this is a positive and necessary step toward addressing the abuses committed against the Yazidi community and other ethnic minorities, which amount to crimes against humanity, it only provides for the needs of a small fraction of the Sinjaris entitled to compensation, Human Rights Watch said.

Those not covered by the Yazidi Survivors Law are entitled to apply for compensation under Law No. 20 of 2009, which has a broader remit and entitles Iraqis to make compensation claims for damages “as a result of war operations, military mistakes, and terrorist operations.” The law provides for compensation to all civilian victims of war or their family members in cases of “death, enforced disappearance, disability, injuries, damaged property and/or disadvantage related to job or education.” Compensation for property damage extends to damaged vehicles, houses, farmland, furniture, shops, and companies.

Since the Sinjar Compensation Office under Law No. 20 opened in 2021, 10,500 Sinjaris have applied for compensation, an office representative told Human Rights Watch. Although about 5,000 of these claims have been approved, not a single family has received the funds to which they are entitled, the representative said.

Majid Shingali, a member of parliament from Sinjar, told Human Rights Watch that compensation claims have not been paid in Sinjar because of federal budgetary issues since 2021. Iraq did not pass a federal budget in 2022 due to its inability to form a government following the October 2021 elections. A draft budget covering 2023 – 2025 was approved by the Iraqi council of ministers in March 2023.

People interviewed cited the government’s failure to provide compensation as a primary barrier to their return, in addition to a lack of essential services and security risks in Sinjar.

“Your house is destroyed and then you need to pay to be compensated for something that wasn’t your fault,” a shopkeeper living in a displaced person’s camp said.

People interviewed said that the compensation procedures under both the Yazidi Survivors Law and Law No. 20 are complex, lengthy, expensive, and in some cases entirely inaccessible. The process under Law No. 20 in Sinjar, as in other areas of Iraq, has been plagued by procedural and processing inefficiencies and budgetary issues.

People interviewed reported spending up to two years and from 300,000 Iraqi Dinars (IQD) to up to 1 million IQD (US$205 to US$762) on legal and administrative fees, and transportation to complete the procedures. Often, they said, the amounts of compensation that the Sinjar Compensation Committee recommended are substantially lower than the value of the destroyed home or business or the cost to fully rebuild.

For some, the cost and bureaucratic complexity of the process coupled with the apparent fruitlessness of doing so has led them to give up or not even apply for compensation.

The committee that oversees compensation under Law No. 20 includes representatives from the Health, Defense, Interior, and Justice Ministries and the provincial government. Claims are evaluated case by case, considering the value of the home or business lost and the percentage of damage. The committee is significantly understaffed, with only five officials from the Sinjar Compensation Office, the local government agency that receives and adjudicates claims in Sinjar, tasked with processing thousands of claims.

A representative of the Sinjar Compensation Office said that when the Sinjar Compensation Committee approves a claim, they are sent for final approval to either Mosul, for claims under 30 million IQD ($20,500), or to Baghdad, for claims above 30 million IQD. The claim is then sent to the relevant Finance Department for payment processing and distribution.

The representative said that understaffing contributed to the wait times, but that the lack of payment for approved claims was the result of a bottleneck in the Finance Department of Ninewa Governorate in Mosul.

Of the 5,000 claims that have been approved by the Sinjar Compensation Committee, 1,500 are awaiting final approval from Mosul or Baghdad, and 3,500 are waiting for payment from the Finance Department.

The Iraqi government should address bottlenecks in the compensation process that hinder the timely payment of funds to applicants and ensure that Law No. 20 is sufficiently funded, Human Rights Watch said. Additionally, to lift other barriers to return for Sinjaris and fulfill the economic rights of everyone who had been living there, Iraqi Authorities should fund the development of both needed physical infrastructure and the delivery of public services in Sinjar, including education, health care, water, and electricity among others.

The Iraqi Constitution of 2005 guarantees compensation to the families of those killed and injured as a result of acts it deems to be terrorist. Human Rights Watch has previously reported on how the discriminatory application of Law No. 20 has prevented families with perceived ISIS affiliation from receiving or applying for compensation.

“Compensation is a crucial step in recognizing the suffering civilians have experienced and helping them rebuild their lives,” Sanbar said. ”The government needs to allocate and pay out funds for approved compensation claims as quickly as possible. Sinjaris should not have to keep waiting in vain.”

Flaws in Compensation under Law No. 20

Sinjaris interviewed said that the compensation process under Law No. 20 is complicated, lengthy, and expensive. Applicants must obtain stamps or documents from multiple agencies including the local municipality office, courts, the Electricity and Agriculture Ministries, the Water Department, the district damage detection committee that assesses property value and damage levels, the police, the National Security Agency, and the Compensation Department.

People interviewed reported spending up to 1 million IQD ($762) in administrative fees, legal fees, and the costs of traveling between Sinjar, Mosul, and Dohuk. The final step of the process is to obtain security clearance from the Interior Ministry’s Intelligence and National Security Service, to ensure the applicants are not wanted for ISIS affiliation, which can take months.

Applicants are also required to list every piece of furniture that was looted or destroyed. Naif Saido, the acting mayor of Sinjar, said that he estimated that 90 percent of items under review for compensation are furniture. The process can take years to complete.

A shopkeeper in the Khanke camp for displaced people lamented the time and money he had spent on the process: “I spent one year and 300,000 IQD ($205) working on my claim and going from department to department. It was a big hassle. Everybody knows we fled because of ISIS, so why do we need to go to National Security to prove we aren’t ISIS? It’s a crime. Your house is destroyed and then you need to pay to be compensated for something that wasn’t your fault.”

As he was speaking, his friend sitting with him nodded vigorously, adding: “The process is not worth the money or time.”

The costs of completing the compensation process coupled with slim prospects for swift and adequate compensation have led many Sinjaris to forgo the procedure altogether. For others, the process may be entirely inaccessible. Compensation claims must be filed in person in Sinjar, meaning those unable to do so – due to security fears, reduced mobility, or because they live outside Iraq – are unable to file a claim.

Two people interviewed said that the amounts the damage detection committee recommends are rarely enough to rebuild a home, and often are far lower than the value of the home destroyed. One Sinjari man, Khalil Hasan, said he was displaced by ISIS from the village of Tel Banat in 2014, and his home and shop were destroyed during military operations. He completed the compensation process in early 2023, but he has not yet received any money:

I spent 1 million IQD ($762 USD) on the compensation process and had to travel to Sinjar from Dohuk six times. I had to pay the damage detection committee 100,000 IQD ($68) for my shop and 300,000 IQD ($205) for my house to have them assess the damage. They recommended compensation of 10 million IQD ($6,800) for both my shop and house, even though I bought my house for 50 million IQD ($34,000). The whole process could be simplified.

A returnee to Sinjar said that his house and farm were destroyed by ISIS and that he was now living in a relative’s house. He said, “I’ve just begun my compensation file. I hadn't started working on it right away since I couldn't afford the costs, including fees and transportation. I learned from others that they worked on their compensation file for two years but haven't yet received their pay. Given that it will require time and money, I'm not sure if I'll finish it.”

Another returnee whose house and store were looted said: “I haven't started working on it because it costs me time and money. It is not worth spending money and time on something you are unsure of receiving because nobody I know has received it up to this point.”

Several houses of displaced Sinjaris that were not damaged by military operations, or that were only partially damaged, are being occupied by other Sinjari returnees. Representatives of local nongovernmental organizations said that providing compensation that allows Sinjaris to rebuild their homes could go a long way in solving this issue. Adel Majeed Omar, director of the local organization Beit Sinjar (Sinjar House), said:

There are displaced families who can’t return because their house is being occupied by returnees. There is nobody in Sinjar who can resolve these disputes, but even if there was mediation in occupation disputes, the other family would have nowhere else to go and no money to rebuild, so it’s a stalemate. Most people occupying houses in Sinjar Town came from nearby villages that are destroyed or unsafe.

Human Rights Watch spoke with a man displaced to the Kurdistan Region whose house in Sinjar town remains intact but is currently occupied by a family displaced from a neighboring village. When asked if he would return if his house was vacated, he said he had no intention of returning, since he had settled in Dohuk and did not want to uproot his family again. Naif Saido, acting mayor of Sinjar, estimated that about 10 percent of Sinjaris are in a similar situation and would not return to Sinjar since they have settled elsewhere.

Inadequate Compensation under the Yazidi Survivors’ Law

The passage of the Yazidi Survivors’ Law and payments under the act to a first group of survivors are positive developments, but serious gaps in implementation and procedural issues remain, Human Rights Watch found.

Two months after the application process opened, in September 2022, the government began requiring survivors to file a criminal complaint to receive reparations, even though the payments are administrative. The Yazidi Survivors’ Law Committee, established to oversee applications by survivors, is chaired by a judge nominated by Iraq’s High Judicial Council. Membership includes the director general of female Yazidi survivor's affairs and representatives from the Ministries of Interior, Health, and Justice.

The psychological impact of survivors having to recount the details of their abuse coupled with the mistreatment, stigma, and shame they may face from police and courts during this process risks retraumatizing them, Human Rights Watch said. For survivors outside Iraq unable to access the courts, this requirement renders the process even more arduous. The Yazidi community is highly traditional, and many survivors of sexual violence as well as Yazidi children born of rape have faced stigmatization or rejection from their community.

Lack of faith in the Iraqi judiciary, including concerns over its ability to maintain confidentiality, has led some survivors to choose not to apply for compensation. For others, filing a criminal complaint would expose them to other risks. For example, kidnapped Yazidi children forced to participate in ISIS acts may risk self-incrimination by filing a criminal complaint.

The committee also introduced highly onerous evidentiary standards. These include a requirement to provide court documents from the judicial complaint, four witnesses who can testify to the accuracy of the applicant’s claim, documents issued by ISIS proving a kidnapping, medical reports issued by official authorities, registration with four government offices, and photographs, videos, or articles proving the kidnapping or survival incident in addition to the criminal complaint.

The requirement to file a criminal complaint and these burdensome evidentiary requirements lack a legal basis within the law and its bylaws, contradict the safeguards deliberately included in those texts, and are unnecessary given the plethora of evidence collected by official bodies, nongovernmental groups, and the media. The bylaws explicitly allow for supporting documents like government records, reports from nongovernmental groups, and witness testimony to be considered admissible. Committee members may also interview applicants who lack sufficient evidence.

Unlike Law No. 20, which limits possible reparations to financial compensation, the Yazidi Survivors Law includes provisions for other forms of restitution and restorative justice. The law includes clauses on rehabilitation, land, housing, continued education, employment, recognition of the genocide, criminal prosecutions of those responsible for abuses, the search for those who remain missing, protection of witnesses and survivors, and the establishment of a National Day of Remembrance on August 3.

However, these commitments remain largely unimplemented as well.


To the Iraqi government:

  • Strengthen the capacity of institutions involved in the compensation process, including by ensuring sufficient staffing of offices and addressing bottlenecks in application procedures, to ensure claims are processed and paid swiftly and adequately.
  • Ensure adequate funding is allocated for reparations programs, including both for institutions needed to process claims and for payments for entitlements.
  • Adopt a multi-pronged approach to reparations that goes beyond financial compensation, including measures such as restitution, rehabilitation, and reconstruction.
  • Take concrete steps toward achieving the non-financial reparations envisages in the Yazidi Survivors’ Law.
  • Remove the requirement for survivors to file a criminal complaint to be eligible for reparations under the Survivors’ Law and adopt simplified evidentiary requirements in line with international standards, allowing speedy and accurate processing of claims, without undue and unnecessary burdens on applicants.

To the US-led coalition:

  • Conduct thorough and impartial investigations into all instances of civilian casualties caused by coalition military intervention in Iraq and provide reparations to victims.
  • Provide technical and financial support to the Iraqi government in implementing reparations programs including but not limited to Law No. 20 and the Survivors’ Law.

To the international community:

  • Provide support to organizations supporting victims filing claims or raising awareness about reparations processes.
  • Provide technical and financial support to the Iraqi government in implementing reparations programs, including but not limited to Law No. 20 and the Survivors’ Law.

International Legal Obligations

International human rights law establishes a right to compensation for victims of violations. This right has been explicitly stated in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. The right to compensation is also derived from the right to an effective remedy under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The framework for redressing human rights and humanitarian law violations is provided in the United Nations Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law (2005). This document specifies that victims have a right to “adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered,” clarifying that reparation may take the form of restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of nonrepetition.

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement say that competent authorities should provide compensation or other appropriate forms of compensation to displaced people when recovery of their property is not an option. The Principles also require authorities to provide them with basic shelter and housing. The right to adequate housing under human rights law is part of the right to an adequate standard of living. Individuals have a right to adequate compensation for any property affected as part of an effective remedy for the violation of their rights. Those who are left homeless as a result of displacement or destruction of their homes have a right to shelter.

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