Statement at the UNSC Briefing on UNITAD
Statement08 June 2022
Thank you Mr President.
Before I begin, I also wish to welcome the Permanent Representative of Iraq and thank Mr Ristcher for your report and briefing this afternoon. Please be assured of Ireland’s strong support for UNITAD’s crucial work in pursuing accountability for ISIL atrocity crimes in Iraq.
Ireland joins other Council members in welcoming the progress achieved by UNITAD across all investigative lines of inquiry during the reporting period.
We recognise that the cooperation afforded by the Iraqi authorities to the Investigative Team, including by the Kurdistan Regional Government, were essential in ensuring such progress.
We welcome the completion of an initial case assessment report on ISIL’s development and use of chemical and biological weapons, including in Taza Khurmatu in 2016. The calculated way in which ISIL sought to produce and deploy weapons of mass destruction is truly appalling. There must be accountability.
We were pleased to see significant progress in UNITAD’s thematic investigation into sexual and gender based violence perpetrated by ISIL. The insights obtained by the Team through interviews with older Yazidi women demonstrate the real value and importance of both gender and age-sensitive investigative approaches.
We recognise also progress in the investigation of crimes against the LGBTQI+ community and extend our thanks to civil society for identifying witnesses for interview. While accountability and compensation for victims and survivors are crucial, so too is implementing psychosocial supports that ensure their needs are met in the long term.
More broadly, we commend the Team for their continued partnership with civil society, which has significantly boosted their evidence holdings.
As outlined by the Special Adviser, the investigative priorities of the Team have pivoted towards the identification of perpetrators most responsible for atrocity crimes, and building targeted case files in cooperation with the Iraqi judiciary. This is an important step in moving from evidence gathering to evidence-based trials.
However, the key to progressing accountability for ISIL perpetrators and moving forward with evidence sharing between UNITAD and the Iraqi authorities is the continued effort to develop legislation enabling the domestic prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Ireland therefore calls on the relevant actors in Iraq to urgently form a government, in order to progress such legislation as a matter of priority.
We also reiterate our firm view that such legislation must preclude the application of the death penalty.
The technical assistance and support provided by UNITAD to the Iraqi authorities is multifaceted, ranging from evidence digitisation and preservation, forensic expertise, excavation of mass graves and training to judges and investigators. We note that the European Union has played an important role in enhancing UNITAD’s digital capacities through the EU Digitization Project and we strongly urge the continuation of this important technical assistance work.
Beyond Iraq, we also welcome the continued assistance provided by UNITAD to support investigations by national authorities in a range of jurisdictions, including in Europe, and note that extra-budgetary funding remains crucial to both the speed of investigations in Iraq and its response to assistance requests from Member States.
Ireland commends those states which have exercised universal jurisdiction to prosecute atrocity crimes committed by ISIL members in Iraq and most recently we note the support provided by the Team to the Swedish Prosecutorial Authority. This support has assisted in the conviction of a Swedish individual for failing to protect her minor son from recruitment and use as a child soldier by ISIL.
In this regard, we encourage UNITAD to build on progress to date and enhance evidence-sharing cooperation with both EUROJUST and EUROPOL.
Special Adviser, before concluding, allow me to reiterate Ireland’s steadfast support for your work in delivering justice for the victims and survivors of ISIL atrocity crimes in Iraq.
Thank you Mr President.