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Investigating the past in order to build a stable future  Iraq

In Kojo, Iraq, UNITAD is helping to exhume mass graves containing the remains of Yazidi villagers that were murdered by ISIS

In Kojo, Iraq, UNITAD is helping to exhume mass graves containing the remains of Yazidi villagers that were murdered by ISIS, © UNITAD

27.03.2019 - Article

UNITAD, the Investigative Team of the United Nations, is doing ground breaking work in Iraq to help uncover and document the crimes committed by ISIS. Germany is providing support for this tremendous task.

Investigating and prosecuting the crimes committed by ISIS is an important step towards bringing lasting peace to Iraq. Once all ISIS held territory in Iraq had been liberated, the question arose of how the crimes of this terrorist organisation can be fully investigated. Iraq lacks the structures that are needed to preserve all of the related evidence, which must be done to ensure subsequent investigation in accordance with international standards. 

Guaranteeing independent investigations

After graves in Kojo, Irak, are opened, the remains of murdered Yazidis are taken away by Iraqi authorities, with the support of UNITAD
After graves in Kojo, Irak, are opened, the remains of murdered Yazidis are taken away by Iraqi authorities, with the support of UNITAD© UNITAD

In 2017, the United Nations, at the request of the Governments of Iraq and the United Kingdom, established UNITAD, the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Da’esh/ISIL Crimes. This independent investigation unit, which is based in Iraq and is currently still being built up, is comprised of international and Iraqi experts. Its mission is to assist Iraqi authorities with the collection and preservation of evidence, with a view to ensuring comprehensive investigation of crimes committed by ISIS. However, all of the information and evidence that is collected will be made available to the judicial authorities of third countries, as well, so that ISIS crimes can also be prosecuted abroad.

German assistance with the preservation of evidence

Germany is assisting UNITAD’s work by seconding an expert to the team, as well as by providing financial assistance to the partner organis

UNITAD experts at a meeting with Iraqi authorities on the conclusion of exhumations in Kojo, Iraq
UNITAD experts at a meeting with Iraqi authorities on the conclusion of exhumations in Kojo, Iraq© UNITAD

ation International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), thus helping to establish, and providing legal support to UNITAD. The German Government believes that early action must be taken to systematically preserve and prepare evidence, in order to provide a basis for prosecution of the crimes committed by ISIS. This support is part of the German Government’s networked approach in Iraq, which includes professional capacity building for law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, as important rule of law pillars in Iraq.

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