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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

UAE funding helps UN bring ISIS to justice for crimes against Yazidi women and children

Prosecution of terrorists for war crimes could begin in months

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi community fleeing violence from ISIS in Sinjar town, Iraq. REUTERS/Rodi Said
Displaced people from the minority Yazidi community fleeing violence from ISIS in Sinjar town, Iraq. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Crucial UAE funding is helping UN investigators to move a step closer to prosecuting ISIS in Iraq for war crimes against Yazidi women and children.

The latest report from the UN’s ISIS war crimes team reveals that prosecutions of terrorists could begin in months.

The Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS said it was aided by funds from the UAE to advance its investigations of crimes of sexual slavery, leading to more ISIS offenders being identified.

“Contributions provided by the UAE have continued to support and enhance the work of the Sexual and Gender-based Crimes and Crimes Against Children Unit," said the UN team's report, which will be presented to the UN Security Council on Thursday.

“Recent interviews have strengthened established investigations in that area and have served to identify additional suspected ISIS perpetrators connected with sexual slavery.”

The team, led by British lawyer Karim Khan, QC, has identified nearly 350 terrorists behind the genocide of the Yazidis and other groups.

Using more than 2 million pieces of data from mobile phones, investigators were able to place ISIS members at the scenes of the atrocities.

It has been training Iraqi investigative judges in the development of case files for the prosecution of ISIS members for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The team is working with Iraq to implement a war crime law, which is expected to be adopted within the next year and lead to prosecutions.

It also said “substantial progress has been made” in pursuing new lines of investigation in relation to crimes committed by ISIS against the Kakai, Shabak and Shiite Turkmen communities.

In October, Iraqi experts from the Mass Graves and Medico-Legal directorates started exhumations in the mass graves left by ISIS in Solagh and Kojo, Nineveh governorate.

The team says its work has been affected by the pandemic but now its priority is to return the remains of loved ones to their families.

“Through close co-operation with the Iraqi authorities, the team is now moving forward with a number of priority activities on the ground in Iraq, including the crucial resumption of mass grave excavations and the return of the remains of victims to families,” it said.

“Through the combined initiatives of domestic legislative reform, the provision of support by the team to Iraqi authorities in the preparation of case files and the digitisation of vast amounts of evidence, a path towards the successful completion of the mandate of the team has emerged.

“The team will continue to rely on its partnership with survivors, affected communities, national authorities and the international community in pursuit of meaningful accountability for crimes committed by ISIS.”

The data the team has collected so far has helped to find suspects from the summer of 2014, when extremists killed and enslaved thousands of Yazidis in northern Iraq.

Mr Khan said the records provided evidence that was admissible in court and could prove criminal responsibility beyond reasonable doubt.

There are more than 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 bodies in Iraq, which are attributed to ISIS.

Updated: December 9, 2020 03:37 AM

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