The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has launched an investigation into the war crimes of the Islamic State. The lead investigator will be Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, a British barrister (type of lawyer) born in Edinburgh who has a vast amount of experience in related fields. Khan will act as a special adviser as well as the investigation teams head authority. The investigation comes at the request of the Iraqi central government who made the desire known in August of 2017.
The office of the UN’s Secretary General issued the statement that,
Mr. Khan has extensive experience in acting as prosecutor, victim counsel and defense lawyer in domestic and international criminal tribunals. Mr. Khan has studied and lectured on Islamic law and has published extensively in the area of international criminal justice and human rights.”
Khan has an impressive track record, having served a defense attorney for former Liberian president Charles Taylor in Freetown special court. Former President Taylor was tried and convicted in 2012 by The Hague for aiding and abetting war crimes when he was in power over the course of Sierra Leone’s civil war. Khan also has been involved with the International Criminal Court and took part in international tribunals in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Cambodia.
Iraq specifically requested the United Nations Security Council aid them in the collection of evidence that Islamic State members had carried out war crimes and therefore could be prosecuted accordingly. The United Nations has made it very clear that their investigation team will respect the jurisdiction and sovereignty of Iraq, the team will focus on evidence collection for use in an independent and fair trial to be held in the Iraqi court system. While the investigation team is to be funded directly by the United Nations Security Council, they have also announced that they are looking for and accepting voluntary contributions.
The Yezidi community as whole is looking forward to UN’s investigation, specifically the Yezidi advocacy group Yazda hopes that the Security Council’s team will keep the investigation free of politics in their pursuit of justice. The Yezidis suffered the worst of the Islamic State‘s atrocities in the form of sex slavery and genocide. As the Islamic State took control of large swaths of Iraq’s territory, militants rounded up entire Yezidi communities and put them into mass graves. The executive director of Yazda, Murad Ismael, recently spoke with local press about the other investigation’s taking place. The Kurdistan Regional Government has a team in Duhok working to find answers and the Iraqi central government has set up a commission. The Yezidi community has teams gathering essential evidence as well “But everything is political here,” Ismael says.
Featured image: United Nations General Assembly Hall in the U.N. Headquarters, New York. By Basil D Soufi [CC BY 2.0]