UNITAD Presents Iraq’s Medical Legal Directorate an advanced Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)

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Baghdad, 22 February 2022 The United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) hosted a ceremony in Baghdad to mark the official handover of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) including a DNA matching module MatchMaker to the Medical Legal Directorate’s (MLD) DNA laboratory.

“This ceremony is the culmination of a joint process that began in May 2021 and is the result of extensive cooperation and collaboration between MLD and UNITAD. We are committed to continuing this crucial partnership between UNITAD and the Iraqi government and strengthening the capacities of national counterparts”, said Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD Christian Ritscher. 

Mr. Ritscher underscored the importance of this system highlighting how it will enable Iraqi authorities to accelerate the process of DNA identification of the victims of ISIL crimes underpinned by a robust evidence management process, namely the step-by-step tracking of the handling of the forensic evidence, the scientific procedures performed and maintaining chain of custody in line with international standards. These are key components to ensure admissibility of the forensic evidence in judicial proceedings.

The LIMS, which will be installed at the premises of the MLD, will support the MLD team in its efforts to establish robust scientific identifications of the remains of victims recovered from ISIL mass graves across Iraq. 

Dr. Zaid Ali Abbas, Director General of MLD, expressed his thanks to UNITAD, praising the partnership between the Team and Iraqi national institutions, which promotes the capacities of national experts. He also pointed out that this system "will significantly enhance our capabilities to match and identify the remains of ISIL victims more effectively and quickly". He further explained that the MLD, in cooperation with UNITAD, continues to conduct campaigns to collect information on victims and missing persons from their families.

The MLD’s DNA scientists have played a leading role in realizing this initiative, as they identified the need for this system based on their expertise and their deep understanding of the scale of the challenge to identify all victims of ISIL crimes in Iraq.

Dr. Timm Zörgiebel, Managing Director of qualitype GmbH, which developed the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), accentuated:  “It is a big honour for us to become part of the mission of UNITAD. This really adds to the purpose of our company and pushes the motivation of our people. It is a pleasure to support with our deep expertise in genetic analysis and digital laboratory management. Especially the MatchMaker module, will enable rapid search for individuals in a large database of DNA profiles.”

Dr. Zörgiebel underscored that the MatchMaker module not only identifies direct matches it also finds relationships between individuals. “By enabling you with these   ́superpowers ́ I really hope we can contribute to the success of your mission in a meaningful way.”

Supporting Iraqi capacities is at the heart of UNITAD’s mandate towards achieving the common objective of pursuing accountability for ISIL international crimes, and achieving justice for victims and survivors. The cooperation between UNITAD and qualitype GmbH to provide the LIMS including the DNA MatchMaker application will advance Iraq’s national capabilities to account for persons missing as a result of ISIL crimes, and subsequently support domestic proceedings to hold ISIL members accountable. 

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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 by E-mail: georges.fakhry@un.org