The head of the United Nations team investigating Islamic State crimes in Iraq on Dec. 2 delivered his report to the Security Council, accusing Islamic State (ISIS) actors of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Christian Ritscher, special adviser and head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq & the Levant (UNITAD), reported that his team had uncovered evidence of the deaths of at least 1,000 Shi’ite prisoners at a prison in Mosul in June 2014. The executions had been planned in detail by senior ISIS members. The team also carried out an analysis of battlefield evidence that showed ISIS developed and deployed chemical weapons as part of a long-term strategic plan. The team identified more than 3,000 victims of ISIS chemical attacks to date.
Investigations also revealed the inner workings of the Bayt al-Mal, or “House of Money,” the central ISIS treasury in charge of collecting, storing, and managing the group’s wealth. They have identified senior ISIS members who acted as key financiers, who acquired the extremist group’s funding through pillage, theft, and the imposition of an exploitative tax system upon those subject to ISIS rule. Ritscher also called attention to the conviction in Germany of an ISIS member for the crime of genocide.
Saying that “we now stand at a turning point,” Ritscher emphasized that the international community has “the chance, collectively, to make such prosecutions the norm, not a celebrated exception.” Members of the Security Council praised UNITAD’s work, but also pointed out the need for the evidence that has been gathered to make its way into judicial proceedings via cooperation with Iraqi authorities.
For his part, the representative from Iraq, Mohammed Hussein Bahr Aluloom, said that his government stands ready to prosecute ISIS members for their crimes. He stated that the government has been strengthening the capacity of its judicial system and is prepared to assess the evidence as soon as UNITAD provides it.
From Jurist, Dec. 4. Used with permission.
See our last report on the UNITAD investigation.
Note: “Daesh” is the popular Arabic pejorative for the “Islamic State.”