8573rd Security Council Meeting: Threats to International Peace and Security

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15-Jul-2019 01:40:46
Investigative team making ‘significant progress’ gathering evidence to prosecute ISIL/Da’esh for atrocity crimes in Iraq, Special Adviser tells Security Council at 8573rd meeting.

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Documentary, digital, testimonial and forensic evidence is now being collected to prosecute members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) for their atrocity crimes committed in Iraq, the head of the United Nations investigation team reported today to the Security Council.

In the last two weeks alone, the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) — established by Security Council resolution 2379 (2017) — gained access to more than 600,000 videos related to ISIL crimes, as well as over 15,000 pages of internal ISIL documents originally obtained from the battlefield by leading investigative journalists, said Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD, in his briefing to the 15-member organ.

Initial investigative work focused on three areas, he noted, citing attacks committed by ISIL against the Yazidi community in the Sinjar district in August 2014, crimes committed by ISIL in Mosul between 2014 and 2016, and the mass killing of unarmed Iraqi air force cadets from Tikrit Air Academy in June 2014.

“We have sought to ensure that the experiences and voices of survivors, witnesses and communities are placed at the centre of its work,” he said, noting that these survivors — Shia, Sunni, Yazidi, Christian, Kaka’i, Shabak and Turkmen — have all been impacted by the crimes of ISIL.

Stressing that the Investigative Team’s cooperation with the Government of Iraq has remained crucial in the delivery of its mandate, he said that tangible evidence of collaboration can be found in the collection of forensic material from mass grave sites. Going forward, the Team’s work remains dependent on the continued support of the Security Council and the international community more broadly.

Through engagement with victims, cooperation with national and regional actors and dialogue with religious bodies, two fundamental realities have been revealed, he said. First, that the scale and barbarity of the crimes committed by ISIL have ultimately served not to divide but to unify. Second, the ultimate success of the work of UNITAD will depend on the Investigative Team’s ability to draw on its independent, impartial status in order to harness this unity of purpose and make its work the product of a collective endeavour — a partnership between the Council, the victims and survivors of ISIL, national authorities and local actors, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.

Council members welcomed the work carried out so far by UNITAD, cooperation between the Investigative Team and the Government, as well as its engagement with survivors, witnesses, religious groups and local communities.

Equatorial Guinea’s representative said that the presence of more than 200 mass graves deserves nothing less than justice for the victims and accountability for those responsible.

The United States, its delegate said, will not waver in holding ISIL accountable for the unspeakable atrocities it committed and welcomes the rapid initiation of UNITAD’s activities. Describing the appointment of Iraqi experts to the Investigative Team as critical for its success, she called on Member States to support UNITAD in the collection of crucial evidence “before it is too late” and on the Government of Iraq to give UNITAD the space it requires to operate effectively.

The speaker for Germany, emphasizing that the heinous acts of ISIL did not stop at Iraq’s borders, encouraged the Special Adviser to explore transnational cooperation as it pursues its investigations, welcoming steps taken by the Investigative Team and the Iraqi authorities to facilitate the transfer of evidence. He also stressed the need for Iraq to incorporate provisions on international crimes into its national criminal law, calling on the Government to strengthen the rule of law in judicial proceedings.

France’s representative, recalling her country’s opposition to the death penalty, said evidence sharing must respect United Nations best practices and international standards. Her counterpart from Côte d’Ivoire stressed that the differences in interpretation of Council resolution 2379 (2017), regarding the possibility of evidence collected by UNITAD leading to the application of the death penalty, must not affect the work of UNITAD.

Iraq’s delegate commended the work of UNITAD while asking the body to fully respect Iraq’s sovereignty and judicial process. The evidence collected must be used fairly in proceedings conducted in competent Iraqi courts, he emphasized.

Also speaking today were representatives of United Kingdom, Kuwait, Indonesia, South Africa, Russian Federation, China, Poland, Dominican Republic, Belgium and Peru.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 11:45 a.m.

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2419875
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2420203