Friday, 07 September 2018 00:00

Special Adviser and Head of the investigative team to promote accountability for Da’esh / ISIL crimes (UNITAD), Mr. Karim Khan, Concludes Visit to Iraq and Stresses Centrality of Justice and Accountability to Iraq’s Future Stability

(Baghdad/New York, 06 September 2018): The Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations investigative team to promote accountability for Da’esh / ISIL crimes (UNITAD) under UNSCR 2379, Mr. Karim Khan, recently visited Iraq during which he heard first-hand the heart-wrenching accounts of survivors of Da’esh’s violence. Mr. Khan stressed the need to ensure that survivors of conflict-related violence are protected, their interests advanced, and that perpetrators of these heinous crimes be brought to justice.

Mr. Khan also met during the 6-14 August 2018 visit with senior officials from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government at the federal, regional and provincial levels in Baghdad, Erbil and Dohuk. He engaged directly with survivors, civil society groups and with members of Christian, Shia, Sunni, Turkmen Shia, Kakai and Yazidi communities.

“Iraqis of all communities experienced immense suffering from the violence and oppression wrought by Da’esh. The loss suffered by these communities is profound. I realise that the wounds of sorrow remain open and that even when there is healing, the scars will run deep. Many measures are necessary to address what has happened. The involvement of different parts of the United Nations and the wider international community will remain vital. My mandate, however, has one main purpose which is to ensure credible and thorough investigations take place that meet international standards, so that we may properly identify those members of Da’esh / ISIL who are most responsible for crimes. The aim is to ensure that such individuals are subjected to fair accountability processes, based on evidence. An irrefutable record which withstands scrutiny, even generations from now, is essential to record the harm done and establish the crimes committed by Da’esh/ ISIL.”

Turning to the issue of survivors of Da’esh’s crimes, Mr. Khan said, “The investigations we conduct will undoubtedly uncover acts of heroism displayed by the many survivors from all communities. I have met some of these survivors who bear witness to the crimes committed. Those witnesses that speak the truth courageously to record for history the evil that they experienced deserve our full support and thanks. Indeed, they are heroes in my view. Without their support and participation, no proper accountability process will be possible. In this regard, it is imperative that we collectively ensure that no stigma whatsoever should attach to victims. It is those proved guilty that should be stigmatized. It is essential that survivors be protected and that the investigative and judicial process do not traumatize this category of individual a second time. My team will do our utmost to ensure we engage with victims with full regard to these requirements.”

Mr. Khan’s visit to Iraq was an essential precursor to the commencement of UNITAD’s activities to work to collect, preserve, and store evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by Da’esh / ISIL. According to the terms UNSCR 2379 (2017) which established the Team, the Special Adviser will promote accountability for acts that may amount to atrocity crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh, and work with survivors, in a manner consistent with relevant national laws, to ensure full recognition of their interest in realizing accountability.

The Team will operate with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory. Iraqi investigative judges and other criminal experts will be appointed to work on the team alongside international experts and on an equal footing. The Special Adviser will also promote, throughout the world, accountability for Da’esh / ISIL crimes. The team formally commenced its work on 20 August 2018.

The Security Council has encouraged Member States, and regional and intergovernmental organizations, to provide appropriate legal assistance and capacity-building to the Government of Iraq to strengthen its courts and judicial system, and called on all other States to cooperate with the team, including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance.


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