War crimes investigators seek access to Syrian refugees in Europe

UN war crimes investigators on Monday (September 19th) asked European countries to "remove barriers" to their work by giving them unhindered access to newly arrived Syrian refugees, AFP reported.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which has been investigating human rights violations and war crimes in the country for the past five years, warned that the shift in refugee flows towards Europe had complicated its job.

"It has become more difficult to access victims and witnesses with fresh information," commission chief Paulo Sergio Pinheiro told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"We are appealing to countries inside Europe hosting newly arrived Syrian refugees to grant us access and remove any barriers to our work," he said, as he presented the commission's latest report to the council.

Pinheiro stressed the importance of accessing new arrivals from Syria, who could help the commission document new phases in the conflict.

Their testimonies could prove essential to investigators compiling confidential lists of suspected war criminals and perpetrators of crimes against humanity, he said.

The aim would be to use the information they gather in future prosecution, including at the International Criminal Court, he added.

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