Press Release

UNITAD Reflects on Legacy and Impact in the Final Phase of Its Mandate Acting Special Adviser Peyro Llopis Presents UNITAD’s Last Mandated Report to the UN Security Council

06 June 2024

Baghdad, 06 June 2024 – Acting Special Adviser and Head of the United Nations
Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/ISIL (UNITAD) Ms. Ana Peyro Llopis briefed the United Nations Security Council on the 12th and final mandated report to the Council.

In her remarks, she emphasized ongoing cooperation with the Iraqi authorities for an orderly conclusion of the mandate by 17 September 2024, in line with Security Council resolution 2697 (2023).

Acting Special Adviser Peyro Llopis highlighted that the main priority of the Team in the final phase has been the preparation of evidence, other materials and analyses for delivery to the competent Iraqi authorities, in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2379 (2017) and 2697 (2023) and the Terms of Reference, notably paragraphs 27 and 28.

To this end, Acting Special Adviser Peyro Llopis underscored the significant contribution made by the Iraqi authorities, notably the judiciary, to the evidence holdings of the Team, adding that a vast majority of this evidence was returned to the Iraqi judiciary and other Iraqi authorities in March and June, respectively. The Team continued to deliver its own materials and analyses during the reporting period, such as a new case assessment report on the Tikrit Air Academy massacre with underlying evidence, including evidence originally collected by the Team.

She also emphasized the Team’s focus on capacity-building activities in support of the Iraqi authorities and civil society organizations in Iraq, particularly in the areas of mass grave excavations and victim identification, digitization and archiving of Da’esh-related records; digital forensics; and witness protection and support. She highlighted that “over the past six years, in cooperation with the competent Iraqi authorities, the Team has excavated 67 mass graves, digitized 18 million pages of ISIL-related paper records and extracted data from a significant number of seized ISIL digital devices”.

She also referred to the support provided by the Team, in line with its mandate, to national investigations and prosecutions in third States. She explained that this support has been conducted in cooperation with the Iraqi judiciary to address many of the 246 requests received overall by the Team from 20 third States.

Reflecting further on UNITAD’s legacy, the Acting Special Adviser referred to the Team’s work to factually and legally assess that the acts committed by Da’esh/ISIL in Iraq between 2014 and 2017 may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She also stressed that the evidence collected by the Team has been consolidated into one, centralized digital archive and organized in a manner that makes it easily searchable, with the chain of custody done to an international standard to maximize its possible use in judicial proceedings. She noted that these products will remain beyond the closure of the Team, and Member States, including Iraq, could consider them in the future to hold Da’esh/ISIL perpetrators accountable for the international crimes they committed in Iraq.

In relation to these holdings, Acting Special Adviser Peyro Llopis also recalled her discussions with the Iraqi authorities and the joint acknowledgement that Iraq “would retain custody and preserve, store, and manage the original evidence in Iraq, which will have been delivered by the Team in line with the Terms of Reference”. As part of these discussions, it was also acknowledged that: “a copy of this original evidence would be kept by the United Nations Secretariat as part of its records and archives together with other evidence originally collected by the Team and other materials and analyses it has produced.”

She further noted that an integral part of the Team’s legacy has been the personnel working with the Team, including Iraqi personnel who have been indispensable in the implementation of the mandated activities. She emphasized that “the Team has sought to develop their skillset, so that it can be utilized by Iraq going forward.”

In conclusion, Acting Special Adviser Peyro Llopis reiterated her gratitude to the competent Iraqi authorities for their support to the Team. She also referred to the work of the Team with survivors, victim families and impacted communities and acknowledged “the extent of their support, and the contribution individuals from these communities have made by coming forward to give their account and share their horrific stories and painful memories. They are, in many ways, inseparable from the legacy of the Team, and represent the reason why accountability for the international crimes committed by Da’esh in Iraq must continue.”

For the full briefing of Acting Special Adviser Ana Peyro Llopis, please click here.

More information can be found in UNITAD’s 12th report to the UN Security Council here.

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Maha Thaher

Public Information Officer

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