UNITAD-NGO Dialogue Forum’s Fifth Biannual Plenary Roundtable Discusses Victim Participation in Meaningful Justice Processes
Baghdad, 18 July 2023 – The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) held on Monday its Fifth Biannual Plenary Roundtable meeting of the UNITAD-NGO Dialogue Forum.
In this biannual roundtable meeting, the Forum brings together representatives of Iraqi civil society and international NGOs with UNITAD’s leadership and experts, to engage in discussions about issues of common interest, including new opportunities for cooperation. For this roundtable, a spotlight speaker presented about victim participation in justice processes. Participants shared valuable insights, fostering a dynamic discussion on matters related to the work of UNITAD and its cooperation with the NGO community.
In his opening remarks, Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD welcomed the participating NGOs, including those traveling from other provinces to attend this meeting: “which is convening for the first time, post COVID-19, in person in Baghdad.”
“Needless to say, the Forum goes hand in hand with the great cooperation at the operational level that is happening daily between various units of UNITAD and many NGO partners,” said Special Adviser Ritscher. He also highlighted key elements of progress in UNITAD’s work over the past few months, which were presented in UNITAD’s tenth report to the UN Security Council in June.
Special Adviser Ritscher indicated that: “Meaningful justice rests on the centrality of victims and survivors. They get to feel seen, heard and recognized. They get to witness their day in court, and through evidence-based trials which establish the truth, and deal with the heinous crimes committed by ISIL perpetrators for what they truly were; crimes against humanity, war crimes and in some cases genocide.”
The guest speaker for this roundtable, Ms. Natia Navrouzov presented on participation of survivors in justice processes, before, during and after trials. She also emphasised the role of cooperation and partnerships between all stakeholders for the benefit of victims, survivors, and the community at large, providing examples on cases in which Yazidi survivors were able to participate in court proceedings against ISIL perpetrators in Third States with competent jurisdictions. One example was the most recent conviction in Germany of Nadine K., a German national who was found guilty of a range of crimes including aiding and abetting genocide against Yazidis in Iraq.
Many participants stressed the importance of enacting a national legislation in Iraq that allows for the prosecution of ISIL perpetrators for international crimes before competent courts in Iraq, in a way that ensures effective participation of survivor communities. At his end, Special Adviser Ritscher reiterated UNITAD’s commitment to support this Iraq-led process through the Joint Working Group with representatives of the judiciary, alongside legal experts from the Prime Minister’s office and the National Permanent Committee for International Humanitarian Law, as well as the Iraqi State Council, hosted by the Supreme Judicial Council.
Moreover, NGO representatives gave insights about their work with victims of ISIL, and the importance of the justice process to the Iraqi community. They also discussed the importance of combating challenges facing victim participation in the justice processes and ways forward in joint endeavours, offering suggestions and perceptions for UNITAD’s work and potential cooperation with the NGO community in this regard.
Participating NGOs also had the chance to discuss with UNITAD team leads and experts, ideas to develop additional links of cooperation especially in supporting documentation of survivor accounts and digitization.
The UNITAD-NGO Dialogue Forum has been convening two types of events; the first is a series of thematic roundtable discussions in a panel-format, addressing specific thematic areas relating to UNITAD’s investigative activities. The events bring together international and local experts with UNITAD team member for an in-depth discussion on one theme for each roundtable. The second type of events is the biannual plenary roundtable which aim to provide a broader update on the work of UNITAD, and to serve as an open platform for suggestions on how to better engage with NGOs. The plenary biannual meeting also introduces a space where survivors and community leaders can have their voices heard by both UNITAD and the NGO community.
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United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL,