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Syria Panel Chair Pinheiro Has No Info on Al-Nusra, Won't Say Funders Responsible

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- Human rights abused in and by Syria are denounced daily in the UN and elsewhere.

  But even the UN Security Council earlier this month condemned suicide bombings in Aleppo claimed by the anti-government Al-Nusra Front.

So one would expect the UN panel chaired by Paulo Pinheiro to have information and a position on Al-Nusra, and perhaps even its funders.

Inner City Press on October 16 asked Pinheiro about Al-Nusra, and Ansar al-Islam: is his panel collecting information on these groups? Does the "Responsibility" described in his panel's report extend to the funders of such groups? Video here, from Minute 28:22.

Pinheiro said no, "we don't have the specifics... we don't have the answer." On responsibility, he said it would be "very irresponsible" to answer that question. His fellow panelists Karen AbuZayd, formerly the head of UNRWA, did not choose to answer. Video here, from Minute 30.

Here's hoping that the two newly appointed panelists, Vitit Muntarbhorn and Carla del Ponte, can do a more serious job on this side of the panel's responsibility.

Footnote: At the end of the press conference, Pinheiro was asked if he had mentioned the International Criminal Court to the Security Council in last Friday's Arria formula meeting which Inner City Press covered in real-time. Pinheiro answered that it would have been rude.

But Permanent Representative Cabral of Portugal, which requested the meeting, afterward told Inner City Press that the ICC was raised by the panelists, with the admonition that of course a referral is up to the Security Council. Watch this site.

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