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UN panel says will share names of Syria war crimes suspects

Press Trust of India  |  Geneva 

UN investigators for human rights violations in Syria today offered to share "some information" from secret lists of alleged war criminals with prosecutors to aid investigations and help bring perpetrators to justice.

"We are ready to cooperate with states particularly prosecuting and judicial authorities where they are investigating crimes and share some information on a confidential basis," said Vitit Muntarbhorn, a member of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI).

The CoI has been compiling lists of people suspected of committing war crimes in the brutal Syrian conflict for the past over three-and-a-half years.

This is the fifth confidential list that the Commission has drawn based on interviews of over 3,800 people.

The Commission's Chairman Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, however, warned that "the question of names cannot be considered a fishing expedition... The request must be very specific."

The CoI also recommended setting-up of an adhoc tribunal for trying war crimes as one of the options since the referral of the matter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been vetoed by UNSC members.

With the rising threats of foreign fighters returning from Syria there has been an interest by States in the "enormous data base" compiled by the Commission.

"We were always ready to cooperate with states but it started with the foreign fighters -- foreign fighters going back to the country that they [the states] opened an investigation," said the four-member team.

One of the members of the Commission confirmed that three European countries have contacted them to access the data.

However, the member refused to divulge the names of the countries.

The report presented to the UNHRC documents the use of barrel bombs by government forces as well as violations which are "inconceivable to those living in countries at peace" by Kurdish forces, ISIL, Al-Nusra and other groups.

The report, apart from scathingly indicting the Bashar al-Assad regime and terrorist outfits, also indicated that "influential states" were responsible for the escalation of violence in Syria.

"Since the uprising began, some States have endeavoured to influence the conduct of various parties according to their geopolitical interests. Their support extended to the financial and military realms, giving the warring parties, though unequally, the required capabilities to escalate or at least maintain their engagement," it states.

The chaos spilled into its fifth year began as protests against the Assad regime has since killed 200,000 people.

The report says over 10 million Syrians have fled their homes and 6.5 million are believed to be internally displaced.

Syrian dismissed the report saying, "the report defied credibility and, like the previous report was based on "unilateral and partial descriptions" of hostile people towards Syria and whose motives are well known.

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First Published: Tue, March 17 2015. 23:07 IST