An independent investigative team assembled in Iraq will soon begin to gather evidence of atrocity crimes committed by "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements in order to ensure justice is served.
The team was formed pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2379, passed on September 21st, to support the Iraqi government's effort to hold ISIS elements accountable for their actions.
The resolution called for the establishment of an independent investigative team that will collect, preserve, and store evidence of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by ISIS in Iraq.
"Iraq is seeking to take all necessary steps to implement the resolution in co-ordination with the international community," Iraqi Human Rights Commission spokesman Ali al-Bayati told Diyaruna.
The investigative team, which has now been assembled, includes Iraqi judges, who will work alongside Iraqi and international experts to implicate ISIS elements involved in crimes against humanity, he said.
The joint co-operation "will help support Iraqi expertise in the tasks of investigation and collection of convictions and the development of a package of sanctions and sentences applicable to such crimes", he added.
Efforts support global security
The resolution stipulates that the investigative team operate with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory, al-Bayati said.
"ISIS is not only a local group, but also an international one," he noted, with foreign elements and secret networks and sources of funding outside Iraq.
"Other countries believe that it is in their interest to support our efforts to prevent the criminals of this brutal group from escaping unpunished, so that they are not able to pose a threat to their national security," he said.
The international community is well aware of the danger that returning foreign fighters would pose to their countries of origin, he added.
"The recent UN resolution confirms Iraq's right to pursue all ISIS elements involved in crimes of mass murder, rape and persecution," said Ninawa provincial council services committee member Hosam Eddin al-Abbar.
The international community will support the team with expertise and legal advice on convicting and prosecuting these individuals for their abuses against the Iraqi people, he told Diyaruna.
Holding ISIS fighters to account
"The Iraqi judiciary is today holding accountable ISIS elements captured by the security forces or who surrendered themselves, with integrity and transparency," al-Abbar said.
"Each convicted element receives his sentence for the crime he has committed after all evidence is verified and he is convicted," he added, noting that no party has the right to infringe on the judiciary's authority.
The UN Security Council resolution in support of Iraq's efforts to prosecute terrorists is highly significant, said Legal Culture Association head Tariq Harb.
It allows for the provision of technical and logistical support that will further empower the judiciary to pursue terrorism cases, he told Diyaruna.
"The resolution reflects the desire of the countries of the world to stand by Iraq and help it eradicate the scourge of terrorism and fend off its threat," Harb said.