International Experts Discuss with Iraqi Parliamentarians and Legal Experts Interplay between International and Domestic Criminal Law
13 September 2023
Baghdad 12 September 2023: the United Nations Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) in cooperation with the Parliamentary Development Institute organized the first seminar of the Joint Working Group on pathways to accountability for ISIL’s international crimes, titled Sources and Principles of International Criminal Law: Interplay between International and Domestic Criminal Law.
The seminar, held under the auspices of H.E. Mr. Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, First Deputy Speaker of the Council of Representatives, brought together more than 40 members of parliamentary committees, Iraqi lawmakers, and experts. The seminar discussed core topics in the area of International Criminal Law (ICL) and its linkage to national legislation.
On behalf of Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD Christian Ritscher, Mr. Anees Ahmed, Chief of Office of Evidence Management, delivered opening remarks, thanking the esteemed First Deputy Speaker Mr. Al Madalawi, the Parliamentary Development Institute and participating members of parliament for hosting the seminar at the premises of the Iraqi Parliament. He highlighted that prosecuting ISIL criminals for their heinous international crimes committed in Iraq is of high importance to the victims of ISIL and their bereaved families seeking truth and accountability to the highest of standards. He also noted the efforts done by the Iraqi authorities, including the legislators, in advancing legal frameworks and accountability processes.
He also reassured that, in the spirit of mutual cooperation, UNITAD remains ready, willing and eager to provide any requested technical support as Iraq progresses towards enacting the proper legal framework on international crimes, paving the way for holding ISIL perpetrators accountable for their international crimes before Iraqi courts.
Mr. Rebwar Hadi AbdulRahman, Chairman of the Legal Committee at the Council of Representative said: “The Iraqi Council of Representatives, within its constitutional duties, works to legislate laws that are compatible with international agreements and treaties to ensure that [ISIL] perpetrators of crimes against humanity and genocide do not escape [justice].” He further indicated that: “The presence of the investigation team (UNITAD) will provide technical support, including capacity building, to the legislative authority through international experts in the field of international humanitarian law which leads to a legislation or amendment to the national legislation that preserves the rights of victims.” In addition, Mr. Saad Faiyadh Mozan, Head of the Parliamentary Development Institute, as well as other parliamentarians took part in the opening sessions.
UNITAD facilitated the participation of two international experts, who shared presentations and insights with all participants. On his part, Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim, Judicial Affairs Officer and Islamic Law Expert at the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, discussed sources of ICL, distinction between treaty law and customary international law, international treaties ratified by Iraq, domestication of ICL, distinction between ordinary crimes and international crimes, and why prosecution on charges of terrorism is not enough.
At his end, Professor Claus Kress, Professor of International Law and Criminal Law, Chair for German and international criminal law, and Director of the Institute of International Peace and Security Law at the University of Cologne, discussed general principles of ICL, principle of legality, retroactive application of ICL, examples of the application of ICL to past events, and the rule of law principle.
Furthermore, participating parliamentarians engaged in discussions on issues pertinent to ISIL international crimes committed in Iraq, stressing that victims are at the heart of any joint efforts towards justice. They also indicated the need for further support in this field.
This seminar comes as a part of UNITAD’s growing engagement with national institutions and support to the work of the Joint Working Group through capacity building, leveraging international expertise, and broadening knowledge within Iraq about the range of options available to advance accountability.
Launched in March of 2023, the Joint Working Group has supported drafting a legislation that incorporates international crimes’ charges for ISIL perpetrators in Iraq. It is comprised of representatives of the judiciary, alongside legal experts from the Prime Minister’s office and the National Permanent Committee for International Humanitarian Law, as well as the Iraqi State Council, hosted by the Supreme Judicial Council.