On His First Visit to Northern Iraq, Special Adviser Ritscher Reaffirms UNITAD’s Commitment to ISIL Accountability

Baghdad, November 7, 2021 – On his first visit to northern Iraq, Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIL/Daesh (UNITAD) Christian Ritscher met with victims, survivors, civil society representatives and religious leaders of communities that suffered from ISIL atrocities.

Special Adviser Ritscher also met with national authorities to discuss cooperation in the investigations of crimes committed by ISIL perpetrators to ensure they are held accountable.

The first stop was in Dohuk where Mr. Ritscher received at UNITAD’s offices several Yazidi civil society representatives and partner organizations, including survivors networks representing female survivors and families of victims.

Also in Duhok, Judge Ayman Mostafa welcomed the Special Adviser at the Committee for Gathering Evidence (CIGE). The two sides discussed ongoing collaboration, and the digitization and archiving evidence of crimes committed by ISIL individuals which is currently being undertaken by CIGE.

In Erbil, Mr. Ritscher listened to Christian religious leaders and updated them on UNITAD’s ongoing efforts to hold ISIL members accountable for international crimes committed against their communities as well as the destruction of Christian cultural heritage. Christian leaders outlined their continued commitment to support UNITAD's work, and to encourage victims and survivors to participate in the accountability process, including to give their witness accounts of those crimes.

The Special Adviser concluded the visit by meeting with H.E. Masrour Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, and the President of the Judicial Council of the Kurdistan Region Judge Abduljabbar Aziz Hassan, repsectively. He thanked them for their continued support to UNITAD's work, and discussed ongoing operational cooperation in investigations, including judicial capacity building, information sharing and the archiving and digitizing evidence of crimes ISIL perpetrators committed in Iraq.

During his trip, the Special Adviser reaffirmed UNITAD’s commitment to ongoing collaboration with the Government of Iraq and authorities in the Kurdistan region to continue to support efforts to hold ISIL accountable. His meetings also paved the way to strengthen existing partnerships and establish new ones with victim communities that suffered from ISIL atrocities in the pursuit of accountability.