UN Has List of Top Syrian Leaders for Crimes Probe
The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity carried out by Syria’s security forces against government opponents, a panel of U.N. human rights experts said Thursday.
The U.N. experts indicated the list goes as high as President Bashar Assad but declined to say exactly which or how many names are on it.
Thousands of Syrians have died in the Assad regime’s crackdown since March and the panel, citing what it called a reliable source, said at least 500 children are among the dead.
“A reliable body of evidence exists that, consistent with other verified circumstances, provides reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers and officials at the highest levels of government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations,” said the report by the U.N.-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.
It said the panel gave the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay a sealed envelope containing the names of these people for future investigations by “competent authorities.” It didn’t say who these investigating authorities might be, but Pillay herself has previously called for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
In this Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 citizen… View Full Caption
The panel led by Brazilian professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said its list also identifies some armed opposition cells thought to have committed gross abuses.
Experts said the list is likely to be more of a deterrent against further abuses than a direct threat to the Assad regime. Syria isn’t a member of the ICC so its jurisdiction doesn’t apply there, and Russia would likely block any moves in the U.N. Security Council to refer the country to the Hague-based tribunal.
But Andrea Bianchi, a professor of international law at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, said anyone on the U.N. list might still be arrested and prosecuted if they traveled from Syria to a country that has signed up to the international court.
“Personally, if I were on that list I would worry,” he said.