Mr Chairman, I would like to begin by thanking Special Adviser Ritscher and his team for their report and I welcome the participation of Iraq's permanent representative at the meeting. Switzerland welcomes the continued progress made during the period under review by the investigation team to promote accountability for the crimes committed by Da'esh. We also commend UNITAD and the Iraqi government for their respective efforts and close cooperation in implementing the provisions of Resolution 2697.
The main objective of UNITAD remains entirely valid. Switzerland considers the following aspects to be key to UNITAD's mandate and work:
Firstly: The exchange of evidence with third countries, which is an integral part of UNITAD's mandate, is important for the prosecution of terrorism-related crimes worldwide. Switzerland welcomes the cooperation between UNITAD and the Iraqi government in determining the modalities of future evidence sharing with third countries. At the same time, it remains essential that this exchange respects international law and the principles of the rule of law. Switzerland is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances, as it is incompatible with respect for human rights and human dignity. Consequently, we oppose the sharing of evidence in judicial proceedings that could lead to capital punishment.
Secondly: Accountability and justice are essential pillars for preventing atrocities and building lasting peace based on trust. We appreciate UNITAD's ongoing efforts to achieve this goal by thoroughly investigating and documenting the many crimes perpetrated by Da'esh in Iraq. We particularly value their victim-centred approach as well as their perpetrator-centred investigations. The documentation and evaluation of cases of sexual crimes, particularly against women and girls from minority communities, is essential to ensure accountability. In this context, I would like to highlight a report by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate that was recently published in partnership with Switzerland. This report highlights that sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced marriage are used as weapons of terror by Da'esh. Impunity for these serious crimes hinders justice for victims and survivors, and destroys the social fabric.
It is essential to criminalise, in national legislation, international crimes, particularly those related to sexual and gender-based violence. In addition, independent courts are essential to hold the perpetrators of Da'esh accountable for their crimes. We welcome UNITAD's collaboration with the Iraqi authorities and encourage the government to adopt such national legislation as soon as possible.
Thirdly: We note the Special Adviser's assessment that UNITAID's mandate will not be completed to a significant extent by September 2024. Switzerland is concerned about the risk that certain essential investigations will not be finalised on time and that requests for mutual assistance from the national authorities of third States will go unanswered. Legal proceedings take time. This reinforces our expectation that the Iraqi government will ensure that the crimes committed by Da'esh continue to be prosecuted in accordance with international law and the principles of the rule of law.
International cooperation is essential to bring the perpetrators of all the crimes committed to justice. At the same time, long-term initiatives are needed to bring about reconciliation and prevent the recurrence of violence.
The work of UNITAD is a key element in this effort.