An important first step towards justice for persecuted Christians, Yazidis and Muslim minorities was achieved today with the Federal Parliament discussing a motion to recognise ISIS genocide.

Australian Christian Lobby managing director Lyle Shelton thanked Labor MP Chris Hayes and Coalition MP Kevin Andrews for introducing the motion into the House of Representatives Federation Chamber this evening to recognise the genocide in Syria and call on the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Mr Shelton said he hoped the House of Representatives would continue to debate and vote on the motion as soon as possible.

“Since mid-2014 Australians have watched on as the so-called Islamic State or ISIS carry out its terror campaign which included the assassination of church leaders, mass murders, torture, systematic rape, and sexual enslavement of Christians and other religious minorities” Mr Shelton said.

The genocide has taken the life of an estimated 18,800 people. A further 3,500 have been taken as slaves and 3.2 million people have been displaced.

Last month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that tens of thousands of people were abducted or forced from their homes around Mosul. More than 200 civilians were shot in the city for refusing to comply with Islamic State’s instructions.

“The scale and horror of these atrocities clearly meets the United Nations definition of genocide, however, the UN and the Australian Government are yet to publicly acknowledge this,” Mr Shelton said.

“Through this motion today, Australia has the opportunity to join a growing list of nations including the United Kingdom and the United States in recognising the genocide and calling for justice.”

ACL is seeking to build public support for the motion through its ‘Stop the Genocide’ petition that has already been signed by more than 15,500 people.

“The genocide is clearly of deep concern to many Australians and it is pleasing to see Parliament taking up these concerns with the aim of bringing them to the UN Security Council so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice,” Mr Shelton said.

“Those suffering persecution at the hands of Islamic State are crying out for the international community to recognise what is happening to them,” Mr Shelton said.

 “The UN Security Council has the power to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), so the perpetrators can be brought to justice.”