UN expects more ISIS convictions for Yazidi genocide next year

Unitad is set to open another mass grave and is continuing to gather battlefield evidence

Soldiers carry coffins during a mass funeral for Yazidi victims of ISIS in Kojo, Sinjar district, Iraw. AFP
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The UN is expecting more convictions against ISIS fighters who committed atrocities against the Yazidi people next year after gathering millions of pieces of battlefield evidence.

It comes as the UN’s Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS (Unitad) is due to open another mass grave believed to contain 500 missing Yazidi men murdered by the terrorist group.

In a webinar Options for Survivor-centred Justice in Iraq on Monday, Unitad said it expected more prosecutions and convictions of ISIS next year as it was preparing more files.

It has now identified 2,181 ISIS members linked to crimes against the Yazidis, including 156 foreign fighters.

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

Joern Oliver Eiermann, a legal adviser to Unitad, said the group was gathering battlefield evidence and collecting witness statements.

“We are supporting 17 different EU member states and we are hoping to see more judgments and verdicts next year,” he said.

“But in order to prosecute international crimes in Iraq there needs to be legislation and that legislation doesn't exist. The survivors want to see perpetrators in court.”

Human rights lawyer Bojan Govrilovic is calling for Iraq to adopt legislation to allow ISIS prosecutions to take place there.

“Ensuring accountability is key to preventing atrocity crimes and their recurrence,” he said.

“It is very clear that Yazidi community continues to be at risk from atrocity crimes. Weak or absent accountability feeds impunity and the cycle of atrocity crimes. We have been encouraging the government of Iraq to consider national and international action to hold ISIS accountable. More needs to be done.

“I urge the government of Iraq to pass legislation that would allow the prosecution of atrocity crimes. I would urge everybody to multiply their efforts for accountability for atrocity crimes.

“The survivors are still waiting for justice and accountability.”

Unitad has now found more than 30 mass graves linked to ISIS's genocide of the Yazidi community in Iraq.

It is due to start work on the excavation of the Bir ALU Antar sinkhole and expects to find “valuable” forensic evidence linked to ISIS crimes.

It is anticipated that the remains of at least 400 to 500 Yazidi men who were reportedly killed there on or around April 26, 2015, will be recovered.

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

The extremists were defeated late in 2017 after the battle for Mosul.

Updated: December 20, 2022, 3:53 PM