War crimes unit makes progress in Yazidi case

The National - News - - NEWS - ARTHUR MacMIL­LAN

A war crimes in­quiry iden­ti­fied 160 ISIS mem­bers who could even­tu­ally face pros­e­cu­tion for atroc­i­ties car­ried out against the Yazidi community in northern Iraq, the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was told.

The UN team known as Uni­tad, set up a year ago to make ISIS ac­count­able for its crimes, said its informatio­n gath­er­ing in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly in the past six months.

Crim­i­nal case files are be­ing pre­pared and the in­quiry’s geo­graph­i­cal scope was re­cently broad­ened.

Karim Khan, a UN spe­cial ad­viser and head of the team, said mem­bers met tribal lead­ers, vic­tims’ rel­a­tives and sur­vivors in Er­bil, Tal Afar, Mo­sul, An­bar prov­ince, Diyala prov­ince, Nin­eveh and other parts of Iraq.

“De­spite suf­fer­ing ab­duc­tion, en­slave­ment and un­speak­able treat­ment, they were will­ing to re-en­gage with th­ese mem­o­ries to as­sist in hold­ing their abusers to ac­count,” Mr Khan said on Tues­day.

He was re­fer­ring to meet­ings he had with ISIS vic­tims in Do­huk, northern Iraq, last week.

Mo­sul, Sin­jar and Camp Spe­icher in Tikrit are prime ar­eas be­ing looked at by the 107-mem­ber UN team, more than half of whom are women.

More than 50 per cent of its se­nior man­age­ment positions are also held by women, Mr Khan said.

Laser scan­ning of crime scenes in Sin­jar, where most of the Yazidis lived, has en­abled 3D mod­els to be built.

ISIS fight­ers killed men, ab­ducted chil­dren and raped and en­slaved women and girls.

With bal­lis­tics data, ac­counts from sur­vivors and DNA from the re­mains of vic­tims re­cov­ered from mass graves, ev­i­dence is also mount­ing against the killers of judges, re­li­gious fig­ures, jour­nal­ists and health work­ers.

“In the con­text of our in­ves­ti­ga­tion in re­la­tion to the at­tacks com­mit­ted against the Yazidi community in Sin­jar, we have iden­ti­fied over 160 per­pe­tra­tors, and have now fo­cused our work to build case files that may be pre­sented to ap­pro­pri­ate courts,” Mr Khan told the coun­cil.

Iraq’s gov­ern­ment is as­sist­ing the UN team but de­spite “pur­pose­ful steps be­ing taken” there is still no leg­is­la­tion to try acts com­mit­ted by ISIS as war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity or genocide, he said.

“The gov­ern­ment of Iraq also fa­cil­i­tated the trans­fer of an ISIS de­tainee to Uni­tad premises to pro­vide tes­ti­mony,” said Mr Khan, who em­pha­sised that pros­e­cu­tions would one day be pos­si­ble.

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