UN investigators seek access to Syria

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Professor Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson, Commission of inquiry on Syria

The United Nations team investigating human rights violations in Syria has written to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad requesting for a face to face meeting.

The Syrian government has not allowed the Commission of inquiry, which was established nearly a year ago by the UN Human Rights Council, to enter the country to document human rights violations.

Chairman of the Commission Paulo Pinheiro said they hope to meet President al-Assad to discuss the commission's access to the country.

In a report tabled before the Human Rights Council in September this year, the commission said human rights violations which may amount to crimes against humanity were being committed by both government troops and opposition forces.

The commission has also compiled a secret list of individuals it says bear the heaviest responsibility for the alleged war crimes.

"We don't have a crystal ball. I do not know if he will accept us. But it was our duty to have access. We think that it is important to speak with someone who is in charge. We intend to go there without conditions to meet President Assad and to discuss the access of our commission to Syria. We are the only game in town dealing with the violations of humanitarian law and human rights law. We are not a tribunal. We are not a criminal prosecution body. What we do is to build evidence for future judicial initiatives in terms of making accountable the responsible for those violations."

Duration 48"

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