Kurdistan president affirms support for UN team investigating ISIS crimes

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani met on Wednesday with the head of the UN's international team tasked with investigating crimes of the Islamic State in efforts to hold those responsible to account and ensure justice for their victims.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani met on Wednesday with the head of the UN's international team tasked with investigating crimes of the Islamic State in efforts to hold those responsible to account and ensure justice for their victims.

At his office in Erbil, Barzani received Karim Ahmad Khan, who leads the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD).

The team was established by UN Security Council Resolution 2379 in 2017 “to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (Da’esh) accountable by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed by the terrorist group.”

During the meeting, Barzani discussed the tasks of UNITAD and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its work. A KRG statement specified that both sides stressed the importance of continued close cooperation with both the federal government in Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Region for the mission. 

In late May, a UNITAD report submitted to the Security Council stated, “Positive engagement has continued with the intergovernmental task force established to facilitate cooperation between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Team. 

Read More: KRG cooperation ‘central’ to evidence-collection mission on ISIS crimes: UNITAD 

Wednesday's KRG statement continued, “President Nechirvan Barzani and Special Advisor Karim Khan emphasized that serving justice to the victims of ISIS will lead to restoration of trust, stability and peaceful coexistence, as well as reconstruction of the devastated areas and the return of the displaced people to their homes.” 

The statement also pointed out that they discussed “the amendment of the relevant laws concerning the prosecution and trial of the perpetrators, the significance of paying attention to the education system in regards to improving tolerance, peaceful coexistence and the prevention of such horrendous crimes in the future.”

Further discussion included the process of documenting crimes committed by the Islamic State, digitalization of files, training judges, and working in line with international standards and procedures.

In July 2019, Khan first called for the establishment of trials for Islamic State militants responsible for atrocities using an international tribunal similar to that in Nuremberg that prosecuted prominent Nazi figures after World War II.

Read More: UN team probing ISIS crimes in Iraq calls for Nuremberg-style international tribunal: report

The Islamic State was territorially defeated in 2017 by the Iraqi military, the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces, and Iran-backed militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), with air and logistics support from the US-led Coalition. The terror group’s rise in Iraq led to a massive humanitarian crisis that still continues.

Editing by John J. Catherine