Iraq: more than 200 mass graves of the Islamic State discovered

Iraq: more than 200 mass graves of the Islamic State discovered

Mass graves containing up to 12,000 bodies were found in several Iraqi provinces held by IS between 2014 and 2017. The UN agency behind these revelations said it "could have a lot more.

More than 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 bodies were found in several provinces of northern and western Iraq held between 2014 and 2017 by the jihadist group Islamic State (IS), the UN announced Tuesday. The report of the Iraq Assistance Mission and the UN Human Rights Office explains that the 202 mass graves discovered so far could only be a beginning and indicate that "there may be some much more". In the only province of Nineveh, where Mosul is located – the former IS "capital" of northern Iraq – more than 7,200 people are still missing, including 3,117 members of the Yazidi minority, particularly persecuted by jihadists, according to the Iraqi Government Commission on Human Rights.

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For the moment, only 28 mass graves have been searched and 1258 bodies exhumed, according to the UN. And the task is still huge because if some contain only a few bodies, others contain several thousand. This is most likely the case of a natural cavity south of Mosul, nicknamed "Khasfa" (the abyss, in Arabic) where locals say that jihadists daily executed dozens of Iraqis, including members of order.

"Credible investigations" to provide answers to families

Nearly a year after Baghdad announced its "victory" over ISIS, "the evidence gathered on these sites will be central," the report says, calling for preserving these places and conducting exhumations in the rules. . Only these elements, he continues, can "guarantee credible investigations, trials and convictions in accordance with international standards," as UN investigators began gathering evidence in Iraq. The report makes it clear that for three years, jihadists perpetrated "systematic violations of human rights and humanitarian law – acts that may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible genocide" .

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Moreover, as Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, reminds us, if "the horrible crimes of the ISIS in Iraq are no longer the headlines, the trauma of the families of victims exists. always and the fate of thousands of women, men and children is still unknown. "Determining the circumstances of these many deaths will be an important step in the family's grieving process and in the journey to secure their rights to truth and justice," said the UN Special Representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis. According to the UN report, bureaucracy, a recurring problem in Iraq, does not make it easier for families to disappear. They have to go to five different administrations, "a time-consuming and frustrating process for traumatized families," says the UN.

Finally, in addition to calling for the creation of a public and central registry on victims, the report urges the Iraqi authorities to call in specialists during search and recovery operations. The report explains that "these families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones. Truth, justice and reparations are essential to ensure that the atrocities committed by IS are fully taken into account. "

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