SA Submits 4th Report to Security Council; New Evidence Marks Significant Momentum in ISIL Accountability Efforts
The fourth report of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) was submitted to the Security Council detailing its activities to investigate crimes committed by ISIL in Iraq pursuant to Resolution 2379 (2017).
The report highlights the key advances made by UNITAD in implementing its mandate to support accountability efforts by collecting evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by ISIL perpetrators in Iraq.
Central to this progress has been the identification and collection of new forms of evidence, harnessing the technological capacity of the Team and cooperation with the Government of Iraq. For example, through its collaboration with the Iraqi judiciary, UNITAD obtained call data records from Iraqi cell phone service providers relevant to its investigations. Cooperation with Iraqi authorities has also resulted in the acquisition of data from mobile phone and mass data storage devices connected to ISIL. These developments have represented a potential paradigm shift in the prosecution of ISIL members in Iraq.
The Team has sought to adopt an innovative approach to the challenging environment presented by COVID–19, including through the establishment of an enhanced evidence management system, developed by UNITAD’s own experts. This system has strengthened the Team’s ability to organize, track and search the evidence it collects. The use of advanced technology has also been expanded in forensic evidence collection at mass grave sites and other major crimes scenes.
The national coordinating committee designated by the Government of Iraq has remained a crucial partner, and is working closely with UNITAD in the initial implementation of a major new project to support the digitization and archiving of evidentiary materials connected to ISIL crimes held by relevant Iraqi authorities.
During the reporting period, UNITAD expanded on its initiatives aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with Iraqi authorities, including the provision of training and equipment in the fields of digital forensics and witness protection and support.
Strengthening partnerships with communities, NGOs and religious leaders has remained central to UNITAD’s work. In March 2020, the Special Adviser supported, along with Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng, the adoption of the landmark Interfaith Statement on Victims of ISIL, through which leaders of all major faiths in Iraq underlined their collective commitment to support UNITAD in delivering accountability for ISIL crimes.
Special Adviser Karim A. A. Khan QC will brief the Council on UNITAD’s fourth report in the coming weeks.