On 10 December, the 3rd anniversary of Daesh’s defeat in Iraq, the UN’s Chief Daesh Investigator will update the Security Council on urgent work to investigate crimes committed in Iraq by Daesh – also known as ISIL or ISIS.
Karim A. A. Khan QC, a British barrister, leads the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh (UNITAD). His team supports Iraqi domestic efforts to hold Daesh accountable for acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The team supports domestic efforts to hold Daesh accountable for their crimes by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq from multiple sites.
During the briefing, Khan will announce significant advances in the mission to deliver justice for Daesh’s victims. He will set out how his team has achieved strong progress in the excavation of mass graves in Iraq, following the establishment of a common mass grave excavations strategy with the Government of Iraq. This includes the recent forensic excavation of sites in Solagh and Kojo in Sinjar, from which the remains of Yazidi women victims of Daesh were excavated – a process documented by the Global Coalition against Daesh in our #DaeshFacesJustice campaign – watch the film.
Khan will also tell the Security Council how UNITAD is supporting victims of Daesh, through the expansion of provisions for witness protection and support assistance to Iraqi authorities, including psycho-social support for survivors and family members during excavation activities.
Ahead of his briefing scheduled for 20.00 GMT (15.00 Eastern Time) today, Karim Khan said:
“In the last six months, UNITAD has sought to face the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 through an innovative approach to mandate delivery and the strengthening of partnerships with our Iraqi counterparts.
“In doing so, we have been able to maintain momentum in our investigations and continue crucial operational activities including evidence-digitization, witness interviews, and mass grave excavations.
“As reflected in our report, the ability to deliver on our collective commitment to the survivors of Da’esh continues to rest on our strong and unique partnership with the Government of Iraq, Iraqi civil society, religious leaders, and the international community.”
You can watch the proceedings live online from 20.00 GMT (15.00 Eastern Time) on Thursday 10th December. It can be viewed via UN WebTV: http://webtv.un.org/, which will also be available after the event.
The key updates from UNITAD’s fifth report include, which can be read in full here, include:
- Excavation of mass graves: There have been significant advances in the excavation of mass graves in Iraq, following the establishment of a common mass grave excavations strategy with the Government of Iraq. This includes the forensic excavation, last month, of sites in Solagh and Kojo in Sinjar, containing the remains of Yazidi women victims of Daesh.
- Supporting victims: UNITAD has further expanded its provision of witness protection and support assistance to Iraqi authorities, including psycho-social support for survivors and family members during excavation activities.
- Innovating through technology: UNITAD has developed and launched SHUHUD, a new digital platform allowing witnesses and survivors to safely and confidentially submit information on potential Daesh crimes.
- Accessing new evidence: The team continues to collect a diverse range of evidence in relation to Daesh crimes that will assist in holding those most responsible accountable for international crimes.
- Progress despite COVID-19: In the past six months the team’s work has accelerated, despite having to manage the challenges posed by COVID-19. For example, it has continued to interview both witnesses and survivors despite the pandemic, using videoconference technology.
- Building Iraqi capability: The Team has begun providing training and support to Iraqi investigative judges to help them build case files to prosecute Daesh members. UNITAD is working with the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi judiciary to digitize and archive millions of documents and other material that can be used in cases against Daesh members.