In the News
News & Updates
Concerns about the non-renewal of UNITAD’s mandate in Iraq
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Iraq, September 12, 2023
We, the undersigned organizations, have been made aware of highly concerning news that the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL’s (UNITAD) mandate may not be renewed in Iraq beyond September 2024.
UNITAD was mandated pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2379 to collect, preserve, and store evidence of ISIL crimes in Iraq in line with the highest possible standards. UNITAD was established following the tireless advocacy of survivors and several of the undersigned organizations, and in response to the scale of ISIL crimes. This advocacy was aiming to ensure that evidence of ISIL crimes would not get lost until a holistic strategy from both Iraq and the international community would be in place to address ISIL crimes. This has yet to happen.
UNITAD began operating in Iraq in the fall of 2018 and has in the past five years made significant progress including collecting thousands of pieces of evidence, interviewing survivors from all Iraqi communities, supporting national prosecutions in third countries, and substantially supporting exhumations of mass graves all over the country. UNITAD has also strengthened the capacity of Iraqi authorities and Iraqi civil society, including some of the undersigned organizations.
Many survivors and the undersigned organizations see UNITAD as the only hope to achieve meaningful justice in Iraq. For its work to stop so abruptly, when not a single ISIL member has been tried in Iraq for core international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes), would be a disaster for survivors, Iraq, and the international community. It would send the signal that justice is not a real priority, that trust with survivors was built for nothing and that their testimonies and continuous calls for justice were in vain.
This news is all the more alarming since Iraq currently has no legal framework in place to use UNITAD’s evidence and also has no experience prosecuting international crimes. Furthermore, Iraq has not communicated any plan or strategy on how it is planning to move this process forward without UNITAD’s expertise. Nor has Iraq recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court or responded to detailed proposals submitted by survivor groups to establish a hybrid tribunal to prosecute ISIL members for international crimes.
For the reasons above, UNITAD must continue to operate because Iraq alone is currently not in a position to achieve meaningful justice for survivors. Survivors have also repeatedly highlighted that they would not trust a purely national process and called for appropriate international involvement.
We, the undersigned organizations, call upon Iraq, the UN Security Council, and the international community to:
- Renew UNITAD’s mandate beyond September 2024 and as long as it is needed.
- Prepare a strategy to prosecute ISIL crimes holistically both in Iraq and other jurisdictions.
- Support Iraq in adopting a legal framework to prosecute core international crimes and to establish a survivor-centered mechanism which would allow for such prosecutions.
- Ensure that UNITAD supports Iraq in the prosecution of ISIL crimes in Iraq until Iraq is able to follow fair trial rights and implement a survivor-centered mechanism.
Download the statement in English and Arabic here.
- Air Bridge Iraq (Germany)
- All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Yazidis (UK)
- Bassma NGO (Iraq)
- Better World (Iraq)
- Coalition for Genocide Response (UK)
- DAK Organization for Ezidi Women Development (Iraq)
- Ezidi Millennium Organization for Development (Iraq)
- Eyzidi Organisation For Documentation
- Farida Global Organization (Germany and Iraq)
- Fight For Humanity (Switzerland)
- Free Yezidi Foundation (Iraq and USA)
- Gazi Organization for Civilian Activities (Iraq)
- Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (USA)
- Harikar (Iraq)
- HÁWAR.help (Germany)
- Hope Givers (Iraq) – Network of Yazidi male survivors
- Hope Maker’s Organization for Women (Iraq)
- House of Coexistence (Iraq)
- Inhalation of Hope Organization (Iraq)
- International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (UK)
- International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims
- Jiyan Foundation For Human Rights (Iraq and Germany)
- JOMR (Iraq)
- Nadia’s Initiative (Iraq and USA)
- Nasem Sinjar Organization for the Care of People With Special Needs (Iraq)
- NL Helpt Yezidis (The Netherlands)
- Nuhanovic Foundation (The Netherlands)
- Office of Yazidi Affairs (Germany)
- Petrichor Organization for Human Rights (Iraq)
- Religious Freedom Institute
- Shingal Engineering Organization (Iraq)
- Sinjar Academy (USA and Iraq)
- Sunrise Organization for Civil Society Development (Iraq)
- Sustainable Peace Foundation (Iraq)
- Turkmen Rescue Foundation (Iraq)
- Voice of Ezidis (France)
- We Are With You (Iraq)
- WOLA organization (Iraq)
- Yazda (Iraq and USA)
- Yazidi Legal Network (The Netherlands)
- Yazidi Survivors Network (Iraq) – Network of Yazidi female survivors
- Zentralrat der Êzîiden in Deutschland e.V. (Germany)
🧠 Mental Health Awareness Month - Every Month
Every month is Mental Health Awareness Month at Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights. In addition to our ongoing psychotherapy work, we have implemented several new training programs designed to build local capacities and provide much-needed awareness to youth in the region.
From May 9th to 11th, our senior psychotherapy staff conducted a comprehensive three-day training for community facilitators and paralegals in Sulamaniyah. The training is designed to empower our staff with knowledge of some psychological symptoms and conditions our clients may face. This training equips our legal team with the necessary know-how to effectively support and assist our clients throughout the implementation of our projects. This project is generously funded by Misereor.
Since March, we have continued training 19 local staff in psychotraumatology modules across the region and conducted a 10-day training program called FOR-NET to treat trauma spectrum and offenders for 15 other mental health professionals from Yazda and Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights.
Mental Health Awareness and Human Rights for Children
Our local teams have begun implementing awareness sessions for fourth and fifth-grade students on the impacts of domestic violence and bullying on mental health. These awareness sessions focus on four major concepts – equality, freedom, respect, and non-violence. Through these awareness sessions, students receive valuable insight on how to protect themselves and find assistance if confronted with violence or sexual assault, knowledge of their fundamental human rights, and tools for building cooperative, non-violent relationships with people of different backgrounds.
All students receive take-home materials, which they can share with friends and family. In each session, our trainers emphasize the impact individual behaviors can have on their mental health and their communities. These awareness sessions have been conducted in Baghdad and Arbat Refugee Camp in the Sulamaniyah region.
Support Mental Health Awareness Month - Every Month
Psychological trauma can affect individuals for their entire lives. Our goal is for every client to lead a fulfilling life free from the constraints of sustained mental trauma. The diversity of our psychological treatment services reflects the diverse populations and struggles we see within our communities. Monthly gifts allow us to better plan our services and save money in the process. Please consider giving just $5 a month to provide sustainable psychotherapy and mental health awareness programs in Kurdistan-Iraq, Iraq, and Syria.
What are you waiting for?
For Iraq's displaced Yazidis, the genocide is ongoing | The New Arab
“It’s quite unfortunate that the Yazidis, which are our neighbours…they will become very few in Iraq just like us,” said Wansa Shamoon, from the Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights in Duhok, which promotes the mental well-being, physical rehabilitation, and social reintegration of survivors and their families.
She herself is a Christian whose family also fled IS in 2014. Not only IS, but recurrent violence and pervasive discrimination have pushed a dramatic emigration of Christians out of Iraq in the past two decades.
The decline of both the Christian and Yazidi communities follows a pattern of minority expulsion. In the 1940s and 50s nearly all Iraq’s Jewish population left the country.
“My grandmother was always saying: ‘the Jewish told us when they left Iraq, Sunday is just after Saturday,’” Shamoon recounts.
She believes the Christians and Yazidis share a mutual story in many ways, both enduring repeated genocides over the generations, both ancient religions born in the region and faced with losing their roots.
“[Iraq] is their country, it’s their soul, it’s everything culturally, emotionally connected to them, but they have to choose between having safety without home, or living in your home while it’s not safe.”
Read the full story: For Iraq’s displaced Yazidis, the genocide is ongoing (alaraby.co.uk)