Papal Visit Carries a Message of Healing For Communities Affected by ISIL, Underscores Special Adviser Khan

05 March 2021, Baghdad – Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) Karim A. A. Khan QC welcomed the historic visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Iraq, and the message it carries to all communities in Iraq who have severely suffered from the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL.

“The Pope’s visit to Iraq, his meetings with Iraqi religious leaders and the religious sites he is visiting carry a unifying message of peace and coexistence among all communities in Iraq, especially those who have suffered at the hands of ISIL from all faiths, including the Christian community,” said the Special Adviser. He added that “the fact that the Christians of Iraq will receive communion from the Holy Father in Iraq is a huge and momentous event. In particular, His Holiness’ visits to Mosul and Qaraqosh, and his prayer of sufferage for the victims of war at the Church square of Hosh al-Bieaa; one place that was ravaged by ISIL crimes, will obviously be a deeply personal moment for many of the Christian flock in Iraq. It will also underline that Iraq is enriched by people of all faiths - and from all ethnic groups - and that every life matters.”

The Special Adviser added that the pursuit of accountability in fair trials is crucial to achieving the healing and reconciliation that the Pope will call for. “Like the Yazidi, Shia, Sunni, Kaka’i, Shabak and Turkmen communities, the Christians of Iraq suffered enormously during the period of Da’esh / ISIL. Justice is a right for all - and evidence based accountability is essential to guard against the danger of such crimes being repeated in the future.

Exactly one year ago, in March 2020, the religious leaders of the main faiths in Iraq came together and adopted an historic “ Interfaith Statement on Victims of ISIL”. This statement was facilitated by UNITAD together with the Office of the Special Adviser of the Secretary – General for the Prevention of Genocide. In it, leaders of the main faiths in Iraq underlined their full support to victims, survivors and families, and reiterated the importance of ensuring that those responsible for the crimes committed by Da’esh/ISIL are held accountable.

In his recent Encyclical letter, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship“ the Holy Father underlined that “If a criminal has harmed me or a loved one, no one can forbid me from demanding justice and ensuring that this person – or anyone else – will not harm me, or others, again. This is entirely just; forgiveness does not forbid it but actually demands it.” Special Adviser Khan concluded that “People of all faiths, or of none, can unite behind these wise words as we collectively strive to foster a spirit of unity among various religions and communities in Iraq. Our joint commitment to promote justice, tolerance, and reconciliation is the most eloquent and effective way to combatting the legacy of ISIL.”


For More Information please contact Mr. Georges Fakhry, Chief Public Information Officer for the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL, E-mail: or the UNITAD Public Information Office: E-mail: