A Critical Guide to the Iraqi High Tribunal’s Anfal Judgement: Genocide Against the Kurds

In the Anfal trial, the Iraqi High Tribunal (IHT or the Tribunal) in Baghdad convicted former Iraqi high officials of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Unlike its predecessor-the Dujail trial-the Anfal trial included the presentation of a high volume of documentary and eye-witness evidence. This evidence clearly revealed the existence of a genocidal campaign by the former Iraqi government and military that eliminated an estimated 182,000 Iraqi Kurds in 1988, as part of the eight-phased “Anfal campaign” (the Anfal). Relying on this and other evidence, judges in the Anfal Trial Chamber explained fairly persuasively how genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes were committed against the Iraqi Kurds. However, the Trial Chamber judgment has its weaknesses, in particular: (i) individual criminal responsibility is at times not fully examined; and (ii) the judgment does not address fair trial problems, such as insufficiently detailed charges and government interference. Furthermore, on appeal, the IHT’s Cassation Chamber judges did not seriously grapple with the merits of the case. This Article will address some of these problems, in order to evaluate the Tribunal’s effectiveness and role on the international stage.