UNITED NATIONS (AP) – A UN investigation team said it has made "significant progress" in collecting new sources of evidence in Iraq against Islamic State extremists, including more than 2 million call records that are expected to strengthen cases against perpetrators crimes against the Yazidi minority in 2014.
The team also reported on progress in their investigations into the mass killings of unarmed and military cadets at the Tikrit Air Academy in June 2014 and crimes committed by Islamic State extremists in Mosul from 2014 to 2016.
In a report to the UN Security Council obtained by the Associated Press, the investigation team said it continues to engage with the Iraqi government in pending legislation that would allow the country to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed by the Islamist . State, also known as ISIL.
"Over the next six months, the team will continue its work with the Iraqi government to capitalize on this opportunity, with a view to ensuring the initiation of domestic procedures based on evidence collected by the team," the report said.
The self-declared "caliphate" of the Islamic State group, which has already occupied a third of Iraq and Syria, has been defeated on the ground, but its fighters are still carrying out insurgent attacks.
The atrocities committed by his fighters and supporters left deep scars. Thousands of members of Iraq's Yazidi minority, mainly women and girls, were raped and enslaved, while men were killed. Suspicious homosexuals were pushed from the roof to their deaths. Captured Americans and other Westerners were beheaded, and an unknown number of suspected opponents were killed.
A Security Council resolution supported by more than 60 countries to refer the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court was vetoed by Russia and China in May 2014.
The General Assembly established an independent panel in December 2016 to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity in Syria.
In September 2017, the Security Council unanimously voted to ask the UN to establish an investigation team to help Iraq preserve evidence and promote accountability for what "could mean war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide" committed by Islamic State extremists, both in Iraq and the Levant, which includes Syria.
The investigation team's latest report said that as a result of its expanded cooperation with the Iraqi judiciary, security services and the Military Intelligence Directorate, he is "at a crucial moment in his work".
Cooperation with the Iraqi judiciary in obtaining call data records and with Iraqi security services in extracting and analyzing data from cell phones, SIM cards and mass storage devices previously used by ISIL "has the potential to represent a paradigm shift in the prosecution of ISIL members, "said the investigators.
The data provided "access to a wide range of internal ISIL documents, cell data, videos and images," they said.
The team said it is already identifying evidence that can fill gaps in ongoing processes as a result of cell phone data, as well as placing documents kept by Iraqi authorities in digital format and using advanced systems for finding and managing evidence.
In its investigation of IS attacks against Yazidis in the district of Sinjar in August 2014, the team said it recently received more than 2 million call data records from Iraqi cell phone service providers "relevant to the periods and the geographic locations connected to this investigation. offers a significant opportunity to strengthen case files in relation to the alleged authors. ”
Regarding the investigation of the mass killings at the Tikrit Air Academy in June 2014, the team said their work was helped by the continued cooperation of the Iraqi national commission created to investigate the crimes, including reports on exhumations and autopsies of victims. The team said it also obtained survivor accounts and is seeking additional call data records.
Investigators said cooperation with Iraqi national courts and non-governmental organizations further advanced their collection of evidence of IS crimes in Mosul between 2014 and 2016. Exhumations at two mass grave sites near Mosul that began in March were temporarily interrupted due to the COVID-19 outbreak and "will provide a significant focus for the next investigation activities," the team said.
Looking to the future, the team said it has established two additional field investigation units to investigate crimes committed by IS against Christian communities, Kakai, Shaba, Sunnis and Turkmen Shiites in Iraq.