Human Rights

UN Commission meets Iraqi religious leader to discuss documenting ISIS crimes


The UN Commission set up to document ISIS crimes met with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to discuss the nature of the work that will be undertaken across Iraq.

The committee set up by the United Nations (UN) to document ISIS crimes has made its first visit to Iraq to begin their investigation and meet prominent leaders in the country. The committee, which is headed by Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, a British Lawyer, was formalised in December 2018. As part of his trip to Iraq, the Head of Committee visited Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraqi Shias in the city of Najaf.

In 2014, Ayatollah Sistani issued a fatwa, which mobilised thousands of Iraqis to fight the terrorist group. The mobilised fighters formed what later became known as the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU). During the battles for the liberation of Iraq, the PMU supported the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) by expelling ISIS from towns and cities across the country.

“The people of Iraq stood together united against the criminality of ISIS,” said Karim Khan.

In the meeting with the religious leader, Mr Khan explained the nature of the team and work that the UN will be carrying out and said that they received positive feedback from the Ayatollah.

“His Eminence [Sistani] highlighted some critical things and mentioned that many of the sects have suffered from ISIS crimes including Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Yazidis, and Turkmen Shiites,” said Khan.

While the work of the UN Committee is just beginning in Iraq, the Iraqi authorities have been documenting ISIS crimes as the operations were going on. Furthermore, after the defeat of the militant group, thousands of crimes were revealed.

As of today, the Iraqi Authorities and UN reports have revealed that they have found over 200 of mass graves, which ISIS used to bury bodies of at least 12,000 Iraqi civilians and security personnel. Furthermore, the psychological damage that the militant group inflicted on thousands of Iraqis must be recognised and documented. During the 4-year battle, thousands of families lost their loved ones and saw their children, parents, spouses, and neighbours executed in front of them.

Seeing these crimes have left a tremendous impact on them.

Since the entry of the investigation team, the Iraqi Government has been very responsive to their cause.

The success of the UN investigation, which is being likened to the Nuremberg Trials in Germany after WWII, will be considered a victory to the families who suffered ISIS’ violence for years.