The United Nations investigation has found more than 200 mass graves containing thousands of bodies in areas once controlled by the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq.
The graves were found in the North and Western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar.
According to UN report, they could contain as many as 12,000 victims.
The IS seized parts of Iraq in 2014 and imposed brutal rule, commonly killing anyone of whom it disapproved.
It was eventually vanquished by a US-led air campaign backed by Iraqi government forces and allied militias on the ground, although pockets of IS activity remained in some areas.
According to the report, the sites contain critical evidence that will not only identify the victims but also help prosecutors build cases for war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide.
The report said 202 mass graves had been documented so far, including 95 in Ninevah, 37 in Kirkuk, 36 in Salah al-Din and 24 in Anbar.
Investigators estimate between 6,000-12,000 victims are buried at the sites, including women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, foreign workers and members of the Iraqi security forces.
War against IS
The UN Secretary General’s special representative for Iraq, Jan Kubis said; the mass grave sites documented in our report are a testament to harrowing human loss, profound suffering and shocking cruelty.
Determining the circumstances surrounding the significant loss of life will be an important step in the mourning process for families and their journey to secure their rights to truth and justice.
Significant challenges facing families of the missing are also highlighted. Currently, they have to register with five separate Iraqi offices to try to establish the fate of their loved ones.
The report calls for a public, centralised registry of missing persons as well as a federal Office of Missing Persons.
It also urges the international community to provide more resources and support to the Iraqi Government to help carry out a detailed forensic search of the sites.
Source: Voice of Nigeria