UN team investigating ISIS crimes meets with head of Jurisprudence Council

Photo Courtesy of the Office of His Eminence Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Hasan Al-Taha

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SULAIMANI — The Chairman of the Iraqi Jurisprudence Council has urged Iraqis to support the work of the UN team investigating crimes committed by Islamic State (ISIS) by sharing any information that they have with the group.

Sheikh Ahmed Hasan Al-Taha met with delegation from the United Nations Investigative Team for the Accountability of Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) in Baghdad on Wednesday (January 30), according to a statement released by UNITAD.

UNITAD is led by British barrister Karim A. A. Khan and has a mandate to investigate crimes committed by ISIS militants and to hold them to account through vigorous prosecution. The team was established pursuant to UN Security Council resolution 2379 (2017).

According to the statement, Sheikh al-Taha “welcomed the investigative work UNITAD is undertaking in Iraq, and acknowledged the efforts being made to support affected members of the Sunni community, along with others, who were subject to illegal occupation by [ISIS].”

The two sides emphasized that Iraqis of all backgrounds have suffered both directly and indirectly as a result of the actions of the militant group and that there is “no hierarchy of victims.”

“The Special Adviser also drew attention to the plight of children born from rapes, and that communities should be encouraged to welcome and support both mother and child who are, in different ways, victims of terrible crimes by Da’esh,” the statement added, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

After the meeting, Karim said that “His Eminence the Sheikh and the other senior clerics here are unanimous in their view that UNITAD deserves support.”

“A promise was given, that from the pulpits of the mosques, among the communities, the message will go out that members of the Sunni community who have suffered at the hands of Da’esh, or have knowledge relevant to Da’esh crimes, should give statements or information to the investigative team, so that there may be accountability.”

He added that UNITAD protects witnesses and those giving information in line with international standards.

He stressed the important role that women play in holding ISIS militants to account for their crimes and that UNITAD was taking additional measures to ensure that women feel comfortable and safe coming forwards with information.

“His Eminence and UNITAD were unified in agreeing that women should be encouraged to come forward to share their testimony. UNITAD includes a dedicated female-only unit, so that women may have every confidence in cooperating with the investigation.”

The statement concluded by noting that, in addition to the Iraqi Jurisprudence Council and Sheikh al-Taha, UNITAD has met with “groups from faiths and ethnic groups affected, including leadership from the Government, as well as the Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, and the Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail.”

(NRT Digital Media)