Channel 1 Los Angeles
26 November 2019
The leader of the special UN Investigation Team probing crimes committed by ISIL terrorists in Iraq, said on Tuesday that the courage being demonstrated by survivors coming forward “serves to underline the urgency” they need to carry on with their work.
Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, told the Security Council that the “experiences and needs of the survivors of ISIL crimes, and the families of its victims”, were firmly at the centre of UNITAD’s mission.
“All communities, whether Shabak, Kaka’i, Shia, Sunni, Christian, Turkmen or Yazidi have suffered from the brutality and debased acts of ISIL and all their voices must be heard in our efforts to hold those responsible to account”, Mr. Khan said.
Having been up and running in Iraq for a year, tasked with promoting accountability for the crimes committed by Da’esh during its years of terror beginning in 2014, the team is now “fully operational” said the Special Adviser, with a cohort of 107 staff members.
Presenting his third report, Mr. Khan said he had met tribal leaders, family members and survivors, across the north, to hear their accounts and “understand their personal experience of the scale and severity of ISIL crimes.”
‘Immeasurable strength’ of women and girls
He described visiting camps for the internally-displaced in Dohuk, only last week. “I was humbled by the immeasurable strength of the women and girls I spoke to. Despite suffering abduction, enslavement and unspeakable treatment, they were willing to reengage with these memories in order to assist in holding their abusers to account.”
“It is our responsibility to honour their strength by delivering on the promise…that those who inflicted their suffering will be held accountable,” said Mr. Khan.
Key evidence collection has been completed in recent weeks. He cited comprehensive three-dimensional laser scanning of crime scenes in the Yazidi city of Sinjar; testimonials from Dohuk, and “the successful use of social media crowdsourcing campaigns” to collect information on suspected ISIL members, that have generated thousands of responses. DNA profiles have also been retrieved from mass grave sites.
He said they now had a group of “primary investigative targets” for all of their lines of investigation, identifying 160 different perpetrators of attacks against the Yazidis in Sinjar alone.
‘Exemplary’ cooperation with Iraqi authorities
A relationship of mutual support and collaboration continues between the team and national authorities, he added, describing Government support as “exemplary”, including vital engagement with the judiciary. He cited the national investigation and UN team investigations into the massacre of unarmed Iraqi air force cadets at Tikrit Air Academy in 2014, saying “an excellent working relationship has been established”.
“Following the unanimous renewal of the mandate of the Investigative Team at the request of the Government of Iraq in September this year, I have been encouraged by our renewed common purpose in strengthening modalities for cooperation” said Mr. Khan.
He underlined his “personal commitment” to ensuring the team’s work with national authorities and the Kurdish Regional Government would continue through mutual cooperation.
Our capacity to demonstrate continued value to Iraqi counterparts, and the people of Iraq more broadly, will be essential if we are to build on successes achieved to date”, he added. “Reflecting this, and in line with the Terms of Reference, we have sought to make every effort to share knowledge and technical assistance with national authorities in order to support their investigation of crimes committed by ISIL in line with international standards.”