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Syrian forces bent on crushing a popular uprising had shot dead unarmed women and children, shelled residential areas and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the “highest level” of army and government officials, the independent panel said in a report. The three-member panel said they had drawn up a secret list of names of commanding officers and officials alleged to be responsible for gross violations.
The list, which also identifies armed opposition units tied to abuses, might help “future credible investigations by competent authorities”.
“The list we have deposited with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is based on evidence we have collected since being appointed and covers the period from March 2011 to now,” Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro who lead the team told Reuters.
Pinheiro, speaking by telephone from Sao Paolo, declined to say how many names the secret list contained or whether it included the names of ministers or President Bashar al-Assad.
“We’re not a criminal investigative body or tribunal, it is not our mandate … One day a competent international body will deal with it,” he told Reuters. “This is for the Syrian people to decide.”
UN rights chief Navi Pillay — whose office now has the sealed envelope containing the panel’s list — has previously said that the situation in Syria should be referred to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
“The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighbourhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine-gun fire,” investigators said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council.
The commission of inquiry found that rebel forces led by the Free Syrian Army had also committed abuses, including killings and abductions, “although not comparable in scale”. — Reuters.