Government of Iraq, UNITAD, United in Ongoing Exhumations in Sinjar, Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq -UNITAD (United Nations Investigative Team for the Promotion of Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL) confirms ongoing forensic and technical support for the teams of the Government of Iraq, announcing the continuation throughout April of exhumations of gravesites located in the village of Kojo, Sinjar Region, Nineveh.

Performed by the Mass Graves Directorate (part of the Martyrs’ Foundation) headed by Mr. Diyaa Karim Tu’ma, and the Medico Legal Directorate (under the Ministry of Health) headed by Dr. Zaid AlI Abbas, the next set of exhumations will expand the ground-breaking work conducted in the village during March 2019, the site of the massacre of hundreds of Yazidi men and women in August 2014. Mr. Mohammed Taher Al-Tamimi, General Director of the NGO Directorate and Chairman of the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers Operations Room acts as the focal point for the Government teams across the process, synergising cooperation and ensuring that best practices are adhered to at all times. He commented: “We are proud to say that the first exhumation operation in Kojo was delivered successfully, in line with all legal requirements and international best practices, and in coordination with the specialists from UNITAD. The efforts of our team were tremendous in managing this process, which is of great concern to all Iraqis. As we move forward with the next phase, we will continue to work with our partners to deliver accountability for our Iraqi brothers and sisters.”

UNITAD Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team Karim A. A. Khan QC, stated: “UNITAD is delighted with the spirit of cooperation, commitment and professionalism displayed by the teams from the Government of Iraq, led by Mohmmed Taher Al-Tamimi. This next phase of exhumations in Kojo shows that the national and international communities are united in support of accountability for Iraqis of all faiths, and all communities.” The UNITAD team will include the head of its forensic unit as well as the senior lawyer responsible for Sinjar investigations. The next phase of exhumation work will be coordinated with the assistance of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) with which UNITAD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct further exhumations, in line with recognised international standards.