Title: Report on sexual violence against women and girls committed by #ISIL# in Iraq
Publisher: The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)
I am honored to present to all readers our report on sexual violence committed by Da’esh/ISIL in Iraq. Enclosed in the pages of this report, we see, yet again, that which UNITAD has been dedicated to legally establish since its first days in Iraq; that ISIL criminality spared no-one.
Through the work of a dedicated thematic unit, my team has put great effort in investigating crimes against some of the most vulnerable groups, deliberately targeted by ISIL with sexual crimes, crimes that disproportionately affected women and girls.
The report presents an overview of our current findings that showcase the nature of some of the gravest international crimes ISIL committed against all Iraqi communities. They describe the gruesome details of the abduction, enslavement, and oppression that ISIL practiced against specific groups in Iraq. The report also provides legal analysis of such crimes, which ISIL perpetrated against women, men, girls, and boys, within the framework of International Criminal Law and International Humanitarian Law. These legal findings, however, pertain to the types of crimes described in the report and do not cover all the international crimes committed against the mentioned communities. Other crimes are still under investigation and are yet to be finalized.
So, what is the importance of the provided legal findings herein?
The findings allow for qualifying crimes committed against women, men, girls, and boys from a range of communities in Iraq as international crimes and thus pave the way for the accountability processes to take place on the basis of international crimes. It is important to note that there is no-statute of limitations on international crimes, and as history shows us, criminal proceedings can be launched against perpetrators of such crimes even decades later, and wherever a competent jurisdiction exists. Here, we recognize the Iraq-led process to enact a legal framework that would allow for the prosecution of ISIL perpetrators for these and other international crimes in Iraq. The enactment of this legal framework is a guarantee for the optimum use of the legal findings of the Team.
As important, such legal qualification offers an acknowledgement to the suffering of the victims and survivors, who have been demanding that such crimes be described by their true nature; not random terror but international crimes. These enormously courageous survivors who underwent horrific crimes and yet came forward and spoke up about what they experienced, deserve to be heard and deserve recognition of what they really endured: war crimes, crimes against humanity, and in some cases, genocide.
Not long ago, a Yazidi survivor stood in court in Germany facing an ISIL perpetrator in person. She had the opportunity to narrate her story as a co-plaintiff before seeing criminal proceedings take place against this perpetrator in a court of law through an evidence-based trial.
It is cases like this, where UNITAD played a crucial role in support of prosecutors, that drive our determination forward, so all victims and survivors can see their day in court and find solace when the crimes against them are properly qualified and legally recognized. It is then that the process of healing can progress. It is cases like this that we aspire to see take place in Iraq, the primary recipient of our work.
Towards this end we present our current findings in this report, acknowledging the support of the Iraqi authorities, in particular the Iraqi judiciary, which has been instrumental to our investigations. Further, none of what we do would have been possible without the tremendous bravery and support of the impacted communities. It is through the brave women and men of these communities who have come forward with their testimonies that we are able to make progress in our investigations.
We also present these findings acknowledging, in the process, that investigations still have a way to go, including uncovering more of the stories of all women and men who are still missing and hold additional testimonies of ISIL crimes.
To cover the true breadth of the crimes perpetrated by ISIL is a deed all stakeholders are invited and responsible to carry forward towards accountability and justice that all victims and survivors await.
Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD.