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Syria Commission of Inquiry Does Not Have Info on Airstrikes, Will Share Files

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 12 -- When the Chair of the UN's Syria Commission of Inquiry Paulo Sergio Pinheiro took questions after a closed door meeting with the Security Council, Inner City Press asked him about airstrikes in Syria, particularly by members of the Council. Periscope video here.

   Pinheiro replied that, not having been to Syria (except once as an individual, he told Inner City Press afterward, second Periscope here), he could not determine the facts of the airstrikes. But he said he had urged the Council members involved to comply with international humanitarian and human rights law.

Here fast transcription by

Inner City Press: For the 2 commissioners: with the increasing airstrikes by many parties now inside Syria, how is the commission able to collect, are you able to collect information about the airstrikes that occur and to figure out who’s doing what? And did you have any guidance to, there’s some members of the Security Council who are involved in these strikes, in terms of how to conduct them or how to coordinate more? I’d just like to know how you’re dealing with this new change.

Pinheiro: As you know, we investigate violations of human rights law and breaches of international and humanitarian law from – by all warring parties, by government, by the armed groups, by the terrorist groups... Yes, we had said this to the Security Council in the formal meeting, that we have received delegations about casualties, about results of those airstrikes that you have mentioned. But at this point, we are not in a position to attribute what was the responsible, the member state responsible for this airstrikes. We hope by March when, or in February when we release our report, to be in a better position to elaborate on that. What we have done, it was what we said at the human rights council, that our roles is to remind member states involved in these airstrikes the necessity of respecting the protection of the civilian population in terms of human rights and humanitarian law.

   It was said the Commission would share information with countries -- or rather, prosecutors or courts -- looking into their own nationals, as victims or perpetrators. Afterward, only on Periscope, Inner City Press asked Pinheiro if this every implicated the type of privacy concerns the UN and its Herve Ladsous cite as a basis to go after OHCHR's Anders Kompass, who blew the whistle on French troops' rapes in the Central African Republic, alleged violating victims' privacy.

  Pinheiro said disclosure would require the consent of the victims, but said that is most often given. He summoned over the Commission's Coordinator James Rodehaver, who previously did similar work on Afghanistan. It was Rodehaver who clarified that it is not countries but prosecutors and courts which can request information. He noted that a court in Sweden has cited the Commission's work, to show the conditions in a particular place and time in Syria.

  Pinheiro added that the Commission's work should make the type of “Mapping” exercises as was done in Eastern Congo unnecessary. The information has been collected. Now what? Watch this site.


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