More than 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 bodies have been discovered in several provinces in the north and west of Iraq held between 2014 and 2017 by the group jihadist islamic State (EI), announced Tuesday the united nations. The report of the assistance mission in Iraq and the Office of the Human rights of the UN explains that the 202 mass graves discovered up to now could not be a beginning, and indicates that it “could be much more.” In the single province of Nineveh, where Mosul – the former “capital” of the ARS in the north of Iraq – more than 7200 people are still missing, of which 3117 members of the minority yazidie, particularly persecuted by the jihadists, according to the government Commission and iraqi Human rights.

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For the moment, only 28 mass graves have been excavated and 1258 body exhumed, according to the UN. And the task is still enormous, because while some contain only a few bodies, others contain several thousand. It is very likely the case of a natural cavity in the south of Mosul, nicknamed “Khasfa” (the abyss, in Arabic) where the inhabitants tell that the jihadists were running every day dozens of Iraqis, including members of the security forces.

Of “credible investigations” to provide answers to the families

Nearly a year after the announcement by Baghdad of its “victory” on the ARS, “the evidence collected on these sites will be central,” says the report, calling to preserve these places and to carry out exhumations in the rules. Only these elements, he continues, will “ensure that credible investigations, trials and convictions in line with international standards”, while UN investigators began to gather evidence in Iraq. The report sets out so clearly that for three years, the jihadists have committed “systematic violations of Human rights and humanitarian law – the acts which may constitute war crimes, crimes against Humanity and a possible genocide”.

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In addition, as noted by Michelle Bachelet, High commissioner of the UN for Human rights, if “the horrible crimes of the AR in Iraq are no longer in the headlines, the trauma of the victims’ families still exists and the fate of thousands of women, men and children is still unknown.” “Determine the circumstances of many of these deaths will be an important step in the mourning process of the families and the route to guarantee their rights to truth and justice”, for his part, said the United Nations special representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis. According to the report of the UN, the bureaucracy, a recurring problem in Iraq, does not facilitate the task of the families of the missing. They must apply to five different administrations, “a process both time-consuming and frustrating for families traumatized,” says the UN.

Finally, in addition to request the creation of a public registry and central on the victims, the report urges the iraqi authorities to make use of the specialists at the operations of search and recovery of bodies. The report thus explains that “these families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones. The truth, justice and reparation are essential to ensure the taking into account in their entirety of the atrocities committed by the AR.”

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