UN – UN at ‘pivotal moment’ in bringing Islamic State fighters to justice for enslavement of Yazidis

Telegraph | James Rothwell | May 19, 2020

UN investigators say they have made “significant progress” in helping Iraq collect evidence for a future trial of Islamic State fighters over their enslavement and attempted genocide of the Yazidi population. 

In a report submitted to the UN Security Council, investigators said they had gathered two million phone records and a trove of video and photographic evidence which could be used by Iraqi authorities for prosecution. 

Thousands of Yazidi women were raped and enslaved by IS at the height of its power in northern Iraq, while many Yazidi men were slaughtered. 

The Islamic State group’s self-declared “caliphate” that once spanned a third of both Iraq and Syria has been defeated on the ground, though its fighters are still mounting insurgent attacks.

“In the coming six months, the team will continue its work with the government of Iraq in order to capitalize on this opportunity, with a view to securing the commencement of domestic proceedings based on evidence collected by the team,” the report said. 

UN investigators added that they now stand at a “pivotal moment” in their work to help Iraq bring IS fighters to justice. 

Their investigation has focused on crimes allegedly committed in 2014 by IS against Yazidis in northern Iraq’s Sinjar province, as well atrocities committed against other communities, such as Christians. 

The trove of evidence includes the records of two million phone calls made by Iraqi mobile phones which are “relevant to time periods and geographic locations connected to this investigation,” the report said. 

Investigators have also helped preserve data storage units, images, videos and IS documents that would also be relevant for future prosecution. 

It would not be the first time that IS fighters faced justice for their crimes against the Yazidis. 

In Germany, the trial of an IS fighter accused of attempted genocide and murdering a Yazidi child is already underway. 

Taha al-J allegedly enslaved the five-year-old Yazidi girl before chaining her up and leaving her to die of thirst. 

He was extradited to Germany after being arrested in Greece. 

No pleas are entered in the German legal system and the suspect did not give any comment to judges other than to confirm his name at the last hearing.