UNITAD Call for Iraqis with Information
Baghdad, Iraq - His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Hasan Al-Taha, Chairman of the Iraqi Jurisprudence Council, yesterday received a delegation from the United Nations Investigative Team for the Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) at the Abu Hanifa Mosque, led by Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team Karim A. A. Khan QC.
His Eminence welcomed the investigative work UNITAD is undertaking in Iraq, and acknowledged the efforts being made to support affected members of the Sunni community, along with others, who were subject to illegal occupation by Da’esh. Both sides emphasised that all Iraqis have suffered extensively, whether directly or indirectly, due to the crimes of Da’esh. It was also underlined that there must be no hierarchy of victims, and that every individual who has suffered international crime at the hands of Da’esh deserves that crime to be investigated. The Special Adviser also drew attention to the plight of children born from rapes, and that communities should be encouraged to welcome and support both mother and child who are, in different ways, victims of terrible crimes by Da’esh.
His Eminence Sheikh Al-Taha and his companion clerics expressed their commitment to using all platforms available to them to encourage Iraqis to share information with the UNITAD investigative team. The Special Adviser stated: “His Eminence the Sheikh and the other senior clerics here are unanimous in their view that UNITAD deserves support. A promise was given, that from the pulpits of the mosques, among the communities, the message will go out that members of the Sunni community who have suffered at the hands of Da’esh, or have knowledge relevant to Da’esh crimes, should give statements or information to the investigative team, so that there may be accountability.” Referencing the safety and security concerns that many Iraqis may have in giving evidence, the Special Adviser affirmed that UNITAD protects the witnesses and those giving information, in line with international standards, commenting: “UNITAD is committed to the safety and wellbeing of those that share information or evidence. We will make sure that their privacy is fully respected, so that proper criminal cases can be built to ensure that those who are responsible in Da’esh are properly identified, and then subject to fair trials.
“His Eminence and UNITAD were unified in agreeing that women should be encouraged to come forward to share their testimony. UNITAD includes a dedicated female-only unit, so that women may have every confidence in cooperating with the investigation.” UNITAD is committed to representing all victim groups as per its mandate, and has already met with groups from faiths and ethnic groups affected, including leadership from the Government, as well as the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, and the Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail.