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UN investigative team hands over key ISIL crime data to Iraq

Ana Peyró Llopis, Acting Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD, briefs the Security Council.
UN Photo/Loey Felipe
Ana Peyró Llopis, Acting Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD, briefs the Security Council.

UN investigative team hands over key ISIL crime data to Iraq

Peace and Security

As the UN team charged with investigating crimes committed by the Da’esh terrorist group in Iraq prepares to conclude its mandate in September, significant strides have been made in transferring crucial evidence to the authorities, its acting head said on Wednesday.

Thus far, some 28 terabytes (TB) of data have been transferred, representing a majority of the 40TB held by the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/ISIL (UNITAD).

Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council, UNITAD acting head Ana Peyró Llopis said she has regularly engaged with Iraqi officials, notably the judiciary, survivors of terrorist violence and civil society organizations.

“All stakeholders were eager to intensify cooperation prior to the conclusion of the mandate, particularly on the delivery of evidence, other materials and analyses as well as on capacity building.”

Ana Peyró Llopis, acting head of UNITAD, briefing the Security Council.

The legacy

Since its inception, UNITAD has been pivotal towards ensuring accountability for the atrocities committed by the so-called Islamic State (ISIL/ Da’esh) between 2014 and 2017, which may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, Ms. Peyró Llopis said.

The evidence, meticulously collected and preserved by the team, includes testimonials from witnesses, data from ISIL’s digital devices, on the ground investigations and content extracted using advanced forensic methods.

This vast repository of information has been compiled into a digital archive adhering to rigorous international standards for evidence, ensuring that it can be used in ongoing and future judicial proceedings, Ms. Peyró Llopis said.

“These products will remain, beyond the closure of the team, and Member States, including Iraq, could consider them in the future to hold ISIL perpetrators accountable for the international crimes they committed in Iraq,” she added.

Handing over evidence

Ms. Peyró Llopis further informed Council members that UNITAD had transferred its 28TB of evidence in March.

On Monday, another tranche of evidence, including online and open-source information, was transferred while evidence collected from the Kurdistan regional authorities is ready for delivery.

“Some of this returned evidence was generated because of the close collaboration between the team and the Iraqi authorities,” she added, through activities such as excavating a mass grave or data from seized ISIL held devices.

Drawdown and liquidation

Ms. Peyró Llopis further briefed the ambassadors of progress towards the drawdown and liquidation of the team by 17 September.

This includes the closure of its offices, proper management of its human resources and assets and archiving of both evidentiary and non-evidentiary records.

“The importance of maintaining, preserving and managing these archives has been at the centre of my discussions,” she said, noting that Iraqi authorities would retain custody and preserve, store and manage the original evidence in Iraq.

“This will be for use in domestic criminal proceedings and achieving accountability at the national level,” she added.

A copy of the original evidence will be kept by the UN Secretariat as part of its archives.