The UN team investigating the Islamic State crimes in Iraq gets one-year mandate extension
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The mandate for a United Nations team working on holding the Islamic State (ISIS) to account for its crimes was extended for a year by the UN Security Council on Friday.
The decision to extend the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL (UNITAD)’s mandate until September 18, 2021 was made unanimously, according to a UN statement released after the virtual Security Council meeting.
“Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan QC welcomed the unanimity of the Council’s decision as a demonstration of the continued collective will of the international community and the Government of Iraq to work side-by-side in pursuit of justice and accountability for the victims and survivors of Daesh [ISIS] crimes,” the UN statement read.
The Iraqi government had submitted a letter to the Security Council on Wednesday to call for UNITAD’s mandate to be extended.
“Expressing his appreciation for the continued support of the Government of Iraq for the mandate and work of the Team, the Special Adviser underlined the commitment of UNITAD to continue to work closely with Iraqi authorities in the implementation of its mandate,” the decision added.
ISIS swept through swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria in 2014, exercising its caliphate rule with exceptional violence. Among the group’s crimes are “executions, torture, amputations, ethno-sectarian attacks, rape and sexual slavery imposed on women and girls.”
The investigative unit was formed after Baghdad called at the United Nations in August 2017 for assistance in ensuring that ISIS members would be held to account for their crimes in Iraq.
The Security Council adopted a resolution in September 2017 for the UN Secretary General to establish an investigative them “to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL accountable by collecting, preserving and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that might amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Iraq.”
UNITAD focuses on crimes committed in the Yezidi heartland of Shingal, in Mosul, once the Iraq stronghold for ISIS, and at Tikrit Air Cadet Academy, where more than 1,600 cadets were slaughtered by the terror group.
Special Adviser Khan told a Security Council briefing in June that the Iraqi authorities had helped provide millions of cell data records to geo-locate witnesses and perpetrators, access to physical items of evidence seized from ISIS members, and cell phones, hard drives, computers and other electronic material that can be scrubbed for evidence.
The unit started work in Iraq in late 2018. Alongside Iraqi teams, UNITAD began in early 2019 to exhume the mass graves of Yezidis killed in Shingal.
In November 2019, Khan said that more than 160 ISIS members have been identified as perpetrators of atrocities against the Yezidi community.