U.N. moves closer to revealing list of suspected war criminals in Syria

Syrian government forces wave the Syrian flag while standing on top of a building near Damascus.

Story highlights

  • U.N. commission has compiled four lists with names of suspected war criminals
  • The lists are kept secret but the four commissioners are considering the appropriateness of releasing names
  • March 17 may be the date, when the United Nations Human Rights Council meets

(CNN)Saying war crimes have been committed on a massive scale in Syria, members of a United Nations commission indicated Friday they may soon publish a list of people suspected of atrocities during the protracted civil war.

Four lists have already been compiled but have been kept secret because the alleged perpetrators should be given due process, said Vitit Muntarbhorn, a member of the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria. A new list would consolidate the first four, he said.
    "We are also considering today, this month and next month, the pros and cons of whether or not to release the list," he said.
    The announcement came as the commission released its ninth report on the situation in Syria, where a civil war has intensified and become more bloody since beginning in 2011.
    More than 200,000 civilians have been killed during the conflict and millions of people have fled to neighboring countries. Many other people have been tortured or raped. And concern is building because children are now being turned into executioners.
    In their report, the four commissioners said: "Missed humanitarian opportunities have been aggravated by the exponential rise in the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations."
    The commissioners recommended that justice be administered through the International Criminal Court or an ad hoc international tribunal. To set up a tribunal would take the approval of the U.N. Security Council, said Mark Lyall Grant, the United Kingdom's ambassador to the United Nations.
    The commission may release the list of alleged war criminals at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 17.
    The list would name members of the Syrian military, rebel groups and ISIS.