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SC/14715
2 December 2021
8914th Meeting (AM)

‘We Now Stand at a Turning Point’ with Unexpected Hope, Head of United Nations Team Investigating ISIL/Da’esh Atrocity Crimes in Iraq Tells Security Council

Efforts Must Move from Collecting Evidence to Extraditing, Prosecuting Those Responsible in Iraq, Key Representative Says

Significant steps have been taken in the pursuit of justice and securing accountability for victims, including by gathering and analysing evidence of crimes perpetrated by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), and tying those crimes to specific members, the head of the United Nations team tasked with investigating atrocity crimes by that group told the Security Council today.

“I believe we now stand at a turning point, a moment of perhaps unexpected hope,” Christian Ritscher, Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD), told the 15-nation Council.  “We can envision a new landscape in which those who believed themselves to be out of reach of justice are held accountable in a court of law,” he said.

Presenting the Team’s seventh report (document S/2021/974), he outlined its investigations and analyzation of documentary, testimonial and forensic evidence, including internal ISIL/Da’esh documents, to assemble a picture of the terrorist organization’s operations, including how its attack on the Badush Central Prison in June 2014, in which a thousand largely Shia prisoners were systematically executed; the inner workings of its treasury, Bayt-al Mal or “House of Money”; and the development of its chemical weapons programmes, which affected as many as 3,000 victims identified to date.

He also described stepped-up efforts to support national authorities in the conduct of international-standard trials, adding that by the end of 2022, UNITAD will have established a comprehensive legal basis for the prosecution of ISIL/Da’esh members.  He also called attention to the first-ever conviction of an ISIL/Da’esh member for the crime of genocide in the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt, Germany, in which a five-year-old Yazidi girl, purchased along with her mother as part of the group’s enslavement of the Yazidi community, was left to die in 50°C heat in Fallujah.  Quoting Yazidi survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate Nadia Murad’s reaction to the judgement — “When survivors seek justice, they look for someone to give them hope that justice is possible” — he stressed that her words underline the Team’s collective responsibility as it continues its work.

In the ensuing debate, Council members took the floor to applaud UNITAD’s work in gathering and analysing evidence, paving the way for eventual accountability and justice for the victims of ISIL/Da’esh’s crimes.  Many emphasized the need for such evidence to feed into judicial proceedings, through enhanced cooperation with Iraqi authorities, with some pointing out that those proceedings needed to be conducted in a manner that adhered to human rights.

The representative of Mexico was among many who welcomed the close cooperation between Iraqi authorities and UNITAD, including the digitization of documentary evidence; the provision of training and technical support for the exhumation of mass graves; and the provision of courses for judges in international criminal law.

In a similar vein, Niger’s delegate, Council President for December, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the strong cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi authorities in the implementation of resolution 2379 (2017), and highlighted the progress made in the work of UNITAD’s Financial Crimes Unit in the collection of evidence concerning the internal functioning of ISIL/Da’esh’s treasury.  He also reiterated his support for the agreement between UNITAD and Iraq that allows the sharing of information concerning financial crimes committed as part of ISIL/Da’esh’s activities.

Meanwhile, the representative of Estonia said that the excellent work UNITAD could serve as an example of how impunity can be ended, and justice brought to victims through a holistic approach.  Close coordination with Iraqi authorities must remain a priority for UNITAD, however.  Such cooperation helps to facilitate the arrest of individuals who are believed to be active ISIL/Da’esh members, he stressed.

For his part, the delegate of China expressed regret that, after three years, and with a large amount of evidence, the Team’s work has yet to lead to concrete results in accountability.  Pointing out that the Iraqi Government is the primary recipient of the evidence, he stressed that UNITAD must have consent from Iraq in sharing information with other States.  As well, UNITAD is a temporary arrangement and should not become a permanent body, he said, adding that he hoped the next report will flesh out the Team’s completion strategy.

Iraq’s representative welcomed the renewal of UNITAD’s mandate until September 2022.  He also emphasized that his Government is prepared to take further actions to pursue those responsible for crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh, as well as those who provided financial, logistical or cyber support, or who have helped trade in antiquities to help that group.

Highlighting the recent judgement of the German Higher Regional Court against a member of ISIL/Da’esh, he underscored the need to ensure accountability and to move from the collection of evidence to the extradition of people to Iraqi justice.  Recalling that the sixth report had openly stressed that the progress made and the evidence gathered would make it possible to prosecute those responsible in Iraq, he expressed hope that concrete measures will be taken to transfer the evidence to the Iraqi Government so that trials can commence.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Viet Nam, Kenya, France, Ireland, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Norway, Tunisia, India and the United States.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 11:38 a.m.

Briefing

CHRISTIAN RITSCHER, Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD), presented the Team’s seventh report (document S/2021/974).  In the two months since his appointment, he has engaged with survivors, national authorities, non-governmental organizations and international partners, as well as team-members in Baghdad, Dohuk and Erbil, he noted, adding that he witnessed first-hand the efforts being undertaken across Iraq to secure vital evidence for a comprehensive legal basis for international-standard trials fully reflecting the nature of the crimes committed by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) against Iraqi communities.

“I believe we now stand at a turning point, a moment of perhaps unexpected hope,” he said, outlining the significant steps taken in the pursuit of justice, including through the establishment of structural case briefs addressing crimes committed against all impacted communities in Iraq; development of detailed casefiles tying the actions of specific ISIL members to these crimes; and by harnessing advanced technology to serve this purpose.  As a consequence, he stated:  “We can now envision a new landscape in which those who believed themselves to be out of reach of justice are held accountable in a court of law.”  If efforts were made to address the challenges presented by the scale of ISIL/Da’esh’s criminality, the international community had the opportunity to turn the tide from impunity to justice, he stressed.

He went on to say that a week ago, he stood at a mass grave outside Mosul containing the remains of victims of executions carried out by ISIL/Da’esh at the Badush Central Prison in June 2014, where he listened to the testimony of a survivor.  In this remote location, he witnessed collective efforts in the face of security challenges to support the collection of evidence and ensure that families will be able to bury the remains of their loved ones.  Work was recommenced to exhume the bodies of those killed and collect forensic evidence for use in identifying the ISIL/Da’esh members responsible, while the testimony gathered from survivors helped establish an account of these attacks.  Evidence collected thus far shows that senior ISIL/Da’esh members prepared for the attack in detail, followed by the assault on the morning of 10 June, during which captured prisoners were taken to sites close to the prison, separated on the basis of their religion and humiliated.  At least one thousand predominantly Shia prisoners were then systematically killed, he said.

The Team’s analysis of digital, documentary, testimonial and forensic evidence, including internal ISIL/Da’esh documents, has enabled them to identify individual members responsible for carrying out these crimes, he said.  Data has also helped finalize the Team’s initial case brief for the investigation, which concluded that the crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh members at the prison constitute crimes against humanity of murder, extermination, torture and other inhumane acts, among others, as well as the war crimes of wilful killing, torture, inhumane treatment and outrage upon personal dignity.  The evidence illustrated detailed planning in carrying out these atrocities.  This is also reflected in two other key lines of investigation that have accelerated in the last six months:  the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by ISIL/Da’esh, and the financial mechanisms through which it sustained its activities.  Further, forensic analysis of battlefield evidence made available by Iraqi authorities has shown that ISIL/Da’esh’s development and deployment of chemical weapons was not an opportunist exploitation of fortunate circumstances.  “It was a strategic priority implemented in line with a long-term vision,” he emphasized.

Turning to evidence collected on ISIL/Da’esh’s chemical weapons programme, he said that the group identified and then seized chemical production factories and other sources of precursor material.  It enhanced and diversified its programme, overtaking the University of Mosul Campus as a hub for research and development, and assembling small teams of qualified technical and scientific experts, some brought in from abroad.  The results of the programme can be seen in more than 3,000 victims of chemical weapons attacks carried out by ISIL/Da’esh that the Team has identified to date.  In Taza Khurmatu, multiple rocket artillery projectiles containing a sulphur mustard agent were used, which, according to medical records in local hospitals, led to children and adults experiencing burns, skin infections and respiratory problems, harms to reproductive health of both men and women, miscarriages, and long-term health consequences for children born to exposed parents, among others.

The individual ISIL/Da’esh members responsible for the development of the programme and for carrying out the attacks have been identified, he said, adding:  “As with all of ISIL’s activities, its confidence that its documents and internal structure would never be uncovered forms the basis for the hope of accountability.”   He noted that in his next briefing, he would present the results of a structural case brief detailing the Team’s findings on ISIL/Da’esh’s use of chemical weapons including legal characterization of the crimes committed in its implementation.

Outlining the investigative work done by the Team’s dedicated Financial Crimes Unit, he underlined the importance of bringing to justice those who financially supported and profited from ISIL/Da’esh crimes.  The investigations uncovered the workings of the central ISIL/Da’esh treasury, Bayt al-Mal or “House of Money”, the central department responsible for the collection, storage, management and movement of its wealth.  It also identified a network of senior ISIL/Da’esh leadership acting as trusted financiers, which diverted wealth gained through pillage, theft of property from targeted communities and the imposition of its systematic and exploitative taxation system.  Such evidence underlined the extensive financial exploitation by the group of the most vulnerable communities of Iraq for the personal benefit and profit of its most senior members.  He noted that significant progress had been made with Iraqi authorities towards prosecuting those responsible, as demonstrated by the recent sharing with the Iraqi judiciary of a comprehensive case brief detailing the financing of ISIL/Da’esh’s operations.

Underlining the importance of cooperating with Iraqi authorities, he said that solely gathering evidence or establishing an archive would not satisfy the Team’s mandate; the evidence must be put to work before competent courts.  Therefore, the Team has redoubled efforts to share knowledge with national authorities to support the development of joint casefiles and the conduct of proceedings in Iraq, including through a digitization project under which 25,000 documents are now being processed each day, as well as ongoing assistance in the excavation of mass graves and the exploitation of digital evidence.  The Iraqi Government must be provided tangible assistance in the conduct of international-standard trials that reflect the profound impact of ISIL/Da’esh atrocities on all communities of Iraq, he said, adding that by the end of 2022, UNITAD will have established a cross-cutting and comprehensive legal basis for the prosecution of ISIL/Da’esh members for international crimes committed against a broad range of communities, as well as its chemical weapons programme and financial support systems.

He also called attention to the landmark and first-ever conviction of an ISIL/Da’esh member for the crime of genocide in the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt, Germany.  “The facts of this case resonate deeply, both because of their brutality and because of their relative normality under ISIL,” he said.  The case pertained to a five-year-old Yazidi girl, who was purchased along with her mother as part of the group’s enslavement of the Yazidi community, and left to die chained outside in 50°C heat in Fallujah.  Noting that in his former role he led the team in prosecuting the case, he pointed out that UNITAD was able to provide meaningful support and assist German prosecutors in securing the conviction.  “For the first time, the Yazidi community have seen an ISIL member prosecuted in a court of law for the genocidal acts committed against them,” he said.

He quoted Nadia Murad, Yazidi survivor and Nobel Peace Laureate who, following the judgement yesterday, said, “When survivors seek justice, they look for someone to give them hope that justice is possible.”  Her words underlined the Team’s collective responsibility as it continues its work.  To that end, he was returning Iraq next week to attend a return of remains ceremony at Kocho village, Sinjar, where UNITAD is supporting the dignified burial of victims of mass killings carried out by ISIL/Da’esh fighters in August 2014.  “To the survivors and families of victims present, I will bring the same message as I have to you today:  Justice has been slow, but there is now hope.”

Statements

Mr. ECKERSLEY (United Kingdom), underscoring how important it is to hold ISIL/Da'esh to account, expressed support for the work of UNITAD and welcomed the significant efforts of the Government of Iraq to progress accountability for ISIL/Da'esh perpetrators.  Commending the close collaboration between UNITAD and the Government, he said the strengthening of legal and judicial frameworks is essential for prosecution of ISIL/Da'esh crimes in Iraq.  That is an area where UNITAD adds value.  He also said he looked forward to seeing continued efforts to secure an evidence-sharing mechanism that provides assurances on the use of the death penalty and ensures the Government can move ahead with prosecution of ISIL/Da'esh perpetrators.  He also noted his support for UNITAD’s ongoing focus on investigations into the crimes committed by ISIL/Da'esh against the minority communities and into their development and use of biological and chemical weapons.

GENG SHUANG (China) said that it is of great significance for the United Nations to collect evidence of ISIL/Da’esh crimes and assist in Iraq’s accountability efforts, while respecting its sovereignty.  Spotlighting UNITAD’s completion of basic investigations into crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh at the Badush prison, he said that use of new technologies is a showcase for the use of science and technology in counter-terrorism work.  However, he also expressed regret that, after three years, and with a large amount of evidence, the Team’s work has yet to lead to concrete results in accountability.  The Iraqi Government is the primary recipient of the evidence.  The transfer of evidence will assist in bringing about justice, he said, underscoring that to share information with other States, UNITAD should have consent from Iraq.  Furthermore, UNITAD is a temporary arrangement and should not become a permanent body.  The Team’s latest report contains some preliminary ideas for its completion strategy, he said, expressing his hope that the next report will flesh out such thoughts more fully.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMIREZ (Mexico) highlighted progress made in the file relating to mass executions carried out in June 2014 at the Badush prison, which has resulted in the systematic compilation of evidence for prosecuting members of ISIL/Da’esh.  Also noting the investigation into the group’s use of chemical weapons, which involved the University of Mosul, he said that the redirection of educational institutions towards the production of chemical weapons “represents a complete cancellation of the values of the culture of peace” that is at the heart of such institutions.  Against that backdrop, he underlined the need to strengthen the tools that the international community has at its disposal, along with the need to ensure full implementation of resolution 1540 (2004).  Turning to the report, he welcomed that it stresses the importance of close cooperation between Iraqi authorities and UNITAD in three areas:  the digitization of documentary evidence; the provision of training and technical support for the exhumation of mass graves; and the provision of courses for judges in international criminal law.

GENNADY V. KUZMIN (Russian Federation) welcomed the conclusion of the case brief on the mass execution of Shia Muslim prisoners in the Badush prison.  The crimes committed are unjustifiable and the perpetrators must be duly held accountable.  He welcomed tangible progress made in the investigation into the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by terrorists, adding that ISIL/Da’esh was undoubtedly involved in such acts, which its militants have carried out in countries outside Iraq.  Highlighting the significant progress made in the investigation of crimes against the Sunni, Christian, Kakai, Shin Bet and Shia Turkmen communities, he added that UNITAD must stay the course of its work, but not to the detriment of the quality of its work.  Moreover, he pointed out that the Team’s use of modern technology such as machine learning in its evidence collection and analysis must not run afoul of evidence admissibility criteria.  Furthermore, in line with resolution 2379 (2017), Iraqi authorities must gain access to evidence.  The absence of specific national legislation in this regard should not negatively impact the Team’s mandate.  The provision of access to the evidence to Iraqi authorities will expedite the process of achieving accountability, he said.

DINH QUY DANG (Viet Nam) commended the Team’s innovative approach and its results, including the continued integration of advanced technological tools in the collection and treatment of a rapidly growing amount of evidence in the digitization project.  The chemical-weapon-related atrocities as confirmed in the Team’s report cannot be ignored.  Reiterating his country’s consistent and strong support for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, he unequivocally condemned the use of chemical weapons.  Against that backdrop, he commended UNITAD for its strengthened cooperation with the Government and encouraged the Team to continue the provision of training and other forms of capacity-building to local authorities for the future prosecution of ISIL/Da’esh members.  As well, he underscored that the establishment of the Witness Protection Department with the support of UNITAD is a significant and commendable step by the Government of Iraq.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) reiterated his country’s support for the prosecution of members of ISIL/Da'esh for their core terrorist acts, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.  Such horrific crimes against vulnerable individuals that is motivated by extremist ideology is a core part of an intolerance to diversity, which in turn, leads to victimisation based on ethnicity and religion.  This ideology has inspired movements around the world, including in Africa, where it continues to destabilise societies, he stressed, welcoming the Special Adviser’s prioritization of engagements with Iraqi high-level Government officials early in his tenure.  The achievement of full accountability depends on cooperation with the Iraqi Government; strengthening the capacity of Iraqi authorities; and working in partnership with all elements of Iraqi society.  In this context, he applauded the transfer of skills through training, and technology through the provision of international-standard equipment, as well as UNITAD’s support of the Government efforts to excavate mass grave sites associated with ISIL/Da'esh crimes.

DIARRA DIME LABILLE (France) spotlighted the completion of a third file related to the investigation into the massacre of Shiites at the Badush Prison in 2014; progress made in the open investigation into the development and use of chemical and biological weapons by ISIL/Da’esh against civilian populations of Iraq between 2014 and 2016; and the implementation of the joint strategy for excavation of mass graves.  Noting the importance of building national capacity, she welcomed efforts to train Iraqi judges on international law.  However, she recalled the position of the United Nations regarding non-transmission of evidence for legal proceedings involving the possibility of a death sentence, urging the Iraqi authorities to respect human rights in judicial proceedings.  France’s commitment was illustrated by the convening of the Baghdad conference for cooperation and partnership in August, she said, adding that it generated a positive momentum, which continued on the occasion of the follow-up ministerial meeting held on the sidelines of the General Assembly in September.  The fight against impunity is imperative for the stabilization, reconstruction and reconciliation of Iraq.  The Council must remain mobilized to prevent the resurgence of ISIL/Da’esh in all its forms.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said building trust, and providing gender- and age-responsive support, are crucial in encouraging victims of ISIL/Da'esh crimes to share their stories.  She said she was pleased to see details in the report on the range of supports UNITAD is offering to victims and survivors, including the provision of psychosocial support measures to encourage members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community to come forward.  Welcoming UNITAD’s intention to prioritize support to the Iraqi authorities in adopting national legislation enabling the domestic prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the coming six months, she said such legislation would mark another important step in the journey towards accountability.  She also commended Germany and all those States that have initiated proceedings to prosecute atrocity crimes committed by ISIL members in their domestic courts.

HAYLEY-ANN MARK (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) highlighted the number of milestones that UNITAD has reached in its lines of investigation into crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh, which include the completion of two case briefs addressing crimes committed against the Yazidi community in Sinjar and the mass killing of unarmed cadets near Tikrit.  She welcomed the efforts undertaken to build on these achievements through the finalization of an additional case brief concerning crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh in and around the Badush prison in June 2014.  Also welcoming the progress made by the Team’s investigations into the group’s development and use of chemical and biological weapons, she spotlighted the Team’s adoption of an innovative approach to the collection, documentation and analysis of evidence of crimes, the preservation of which is critical to facilitating their prosecution.  Commending the efforts of UNITAD to strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi authorities, she urged the Government to remain steadfast in its commitment to securing accountability for these crimes, including by continuing its consideration of a national legislation that will allow for the prosecution of ISIL members for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), stressing the importance of the Team’s work to promote accountability for international crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh in Iraq, commended it for completing its case brief on the investigation into the mass killing of predominantly Shia prisoners at the Badush prison in June 2014.  Also noting progress by the Team’s Financial Crimes Unit, particularly with regard to investigations into that group’s treasury, she pointed out that the evidence must ultimately feed into judicial process, instead of simply remaining in a depository.  Welcoming the work of the Gender Crimes and Children Unit, she said its advanced child forensic interview training programme is absolutely vital to avoid re-victimizing children who have been used in conflict.  The Team’s work is key to long term stabilization and development of Iraq after the territorial defeat of ISIL/Da’esh, she stressed.

NESRINE ELMANSOURI (Tunisia) highlighted the progress made by UNITAD through the collection and storage of data.  She welcomed the Team’s third case on the crime of genocide in the Badush prison and its investigative work on chemical and biological weapons used by ISIL/Da’esh, as well its evidence on financing.  This brings the international community closer to having a database to ensure accountability, she said, welcoming the use of advanced technology such as the use of facial recognition technology to recognize individuals.  She also stressed that there should be an emphasis on matters related to sexual and gender-based violence.  This progress could not have been achieved without the support of the Iraqi authorities, she noted, observing that cooperation on capacity-building and the exchange of expertise with the Iraqi authorities is ongoing.  The Security Council should not lose sight of the main objective of the Team, which is to collect and analyse evidence and transmit this to the Iraqi authorities, with respect to Iraqi authority and jurisdiction for crimes committed on its soil.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) pointed out that victims of ISIL/Da’esh’s horrific crimes included 39 Indian nationals, adding that the group indiscriminately targeted civilians, including women and children, and systematically committed genocide, torture, rape, slavery and kidnapping throughout the territory under its control in Iraq and Syria.  UNITAD’s ongoing investigations of attacks against the Christian, Sunni, Kakai, Shabak and Shia Turkmen communities and the strengthening of the initial case briefs in the attacks against the Yazidi community will support the Iraqi Government’s efforts aimed at national reconciliation.  He commended the cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi Government in investigations, mass excavations and development of casefiles, as well as the digitization of evidence.  Such cooperation will strengthen capacities within the national investigative and prosecutorial system to ensure long-term accountability for the group’s heinous crimes.  Noting that the recent biannual report by the Secretary-General on ISIL/Da’esh highlighted its continuous expansion in Africa and Asia, he said UNITAD’s investigation into the administration of its treasury will provide valuable insights into the group’s revenue streams and help prevent flows to it and its affiliates in other parts of the world.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia) said UNITAD’s excellent work could serve as an example for how impunity can be ended and justice brought to victims through a holistic approach.  He stressed the importance of UNITAD’s continued work through the special units on sexual and gender-based crimes and crimes against children and its focus on witness protection, as well as psychological support for witnesses and survivors.  Expressing full support for UNITAD in its efforts to strengthen the capacity of Iraqi authorities, he commended the significant progress made in using new resources and technical innovations, highlighting the evidence digitization project through which 2 million pages of documents were archived and digitized within the reporting period.  Close coordination with Iraqi authorities must remain a priority for UNITAD, he said, stressing that such cooperation helps to facilitate the arrest of individuals who are believed to be active ISIL/Da’esh members.  Noting the launch of the Interfaith Dialogue Series to be held in January 2022, he said such UNITAD initiatives undertaken with the Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide would provide more in-depth engagement with local faith communities.

RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States), noting his country’s 2016 determination that ISIL/Da’esh was responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, said that the United States stands with victims to ensure that those responsible are held to account.  UNITAD is critical in this effort, he said, commending its success in supporting Iraqi authorities to convert documentary evidence into searchable files.  He also welcomed investigatory efforts producing evidence that, on 10 June 2014, ISIL/Da’esh attacked the Badush prison and executed several hundred predominantly Shia prisoners.  This investigation is a critical step in holding the group accountable and securing justice for its victims.  Stressing that UNITAD is most effective when it works in lockstep with the Iraqi Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government, he encouraged Iraqi authorities to pass legislation providing a basis for the Government to prosecute atrocity crimes, including those perpetrated by ISIL/Da’esh.  He also urged Member States to repatriate and prosecute, as appropriate, their citizens who joined the group, as well as to rehabilitate and reintegrate, as appropriate, the family members of such individuals.

ABDOU ABARRY (Niger), Council President for December, speaking in his national capacity, spotlighted the first convictions of ISIL/Da’esh members in Germany and invited all States to strengthen their cooperation with UNITAD to apprehend and bring the perpetrators to justice.  In May 2019, his country’s Government signed a cooperation agreement with UNITAD with a view to benefiting from its expertise in this area.  Welcoming the strong cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi authorities in the implementation of resolution 2379 (2017), he highlighted the progress made in the work of UNITAD’s Financial Crimes Unit in the collection of evidence concerning the internal functioning of ISIL/Da’esh’s treasury.  He also reiterated support for the agreement between UNITAD and Iraq that allows the sharing of information concerning financial crimes committed as part of ISIL/Da’esh’s activities and for the continued integration of technological advances in the work of UNITAD, including the use of artificial intelligence to collect data.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), welcoming the extension of the mandate of UNITAD for one year until Sept 2022, said his Government is ready to make further efforts to pursue those responsible for crimes committed by ISIL/Da’esh, as well as those that have provided financial, logistical or cyber support, or who have helped trade in antiquities to help that group.  “We welcome the judgement of the German [High Regional] Court against a member of Da’esh,” he added, underscoring the need to ensure accountability and to move from the collection of evidence to the extradition of people to Iraqi justice.  The sixth report had openly stressed that the progress made and the evidence gathered would make it possible to prosecute those responsible in Iraq, he said, expressing his hope that concrete measures will be taken to transfer the evidence to the Iraqi Government so that trials can commence.

The Government is strengthening the capacity of the relevant authorities and the judicial system in accordance with human rights and the Iraqi Constitution, he continued.  It has also begun the necessary legal preparations to assess the evidence once it is provided.  The Team must act in full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its competence regarding crimes committed on its own territory by its own citizens.  This is in accordance with the mandate that was requested and extended by his Government.  Iraq will continue its cooperation with the Team and will await the evidence and the tests carried out by the Team, in accordance with paragraph 39 of its mandate.  As well, UNITAD must provide the necessary legal assistance to the Iraqi Government to help it strengthen its capacities, so that the principle of justice prevails.

For information media. Not an official record.