UN team to be­gin probe of IS crimes

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UNITED NA­TIONS, United States — A UN team au­tho­rised over a year ago to in­ves­ti­gate the mas­sacre of the Yazidi mi­nor­ity and other atroc­i­ties by ji­hadists in Iraq will fi­nally be­gin work early next year, the head of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion said on Tues­day.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil adopted a res­o­lu­tion in Septem­ber 2017 to bring those re­spon­si­ble for Is­lamic State group war crimes to jus­tice — a cause cham­pi­oned by No­bel Peace Prize win­ner Na­dia Mu­rad and in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

The team, led by Bri­tish lawyer Karim Asad Ah­mad Khan, was de­ployed to Bagh­dad in Oc­to­ber, but has since fo­cused on ad­min­is­tra­tive and tech­ni­cal de­tails to lay the ground­work for the probe.

“The in­ves­tiga­tive team now looks for­ward to con­tin­u­ing prepa­ra­tions in Iraq with a view to com­menc­ing in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tiv­i­ties in early 2019,” Ah­mad Khan told the coun­cil dur­ing his first re­port.

The Iraqi gov­ern­ment had re- sisted calls for the UN probe and the head of the in­ves­tiga­tive team stressed that much ef­fort had been de­ployed to en­sure co­op­er­a­tion from Bagh­dad.

Ah­mad Khan told the coun­cil that “the re­al­iza­tion of our in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tiv­i­ties is de­pen­dent on se­cur­ing the co­op­er­a­tion, sup­port and trust of all el­e­ments of Iraqi society”.

The United Na­tions has de­scribed the mas­sacre of the Yazidis by IS ji­hadists as pos­si­ble geno­cide and UN rights in­ves­ti­ga­tors have doc­u­mented hor­rific ac­counts of abuse suf­fered by women and girls.

Na­dia Mu­rad is among thou­sands of Yazidi women who were taken hostage and held as sex slaves when IS fight­ers swept into Iraq’s Sin­jar re­gion in Au­gust 2014.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tors will gather ev­i­dence on war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity or geno­cide for use in Iraqi courts that will hold tri­als for IS mil­i­tants, ac­cord­ing to the UN res­o­lu­tion. — AFP

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