Geneva: UN investigators said on Friday they were prepared to publish secret lists of alleged war criminals in Syria to help stem an "exponential rise" in rights violations in the war-ravaged country.
The Commission of Inquiry said publishing the list it has been drawing up throughout Syria's near four-year civil war would put "alleged perpetrators on notice", in what it hoped would "serve to maximise the potential deterrent effect" and "help to protect people at risk of abuse."
The four-member commission, led by Brazilian Paolo Pinheiro, has drawn up four lists of people and groups it believes are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but has until now kept them secret out of concern for due process.
But the investigators said they were ready to shift their approach after four years of efforts to shed light on atrocities.
More than 210,000 people have been killed in Syria and half of the population has been forced to flee their homes since the conflict erupted in March 2011.
"Not to publish the names at this juncture of the investigation would be to reinforce the impunity that the commission was mandated to combat," the report said.
According to a diplomatic source, the investigators might publish the names during next month's session of the UN Human Rights Council, which created the commission in September 2011.
Publishing the names might help halt what the report described as "an exponential rise in the perpetration of war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights violations".
In its ninth report, the commission detailed a horrifying array of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian regime, Islamic State (IS) jihadists and other armed opposition groups.
The commission expressed deep frustration at the inadequate international response to the atrocities taking place on a daily basis in Syria.
"It is unconscionable that Syrians should continue to suffer as they have for the last four years and have to live in a world where only limited attempts have been made to return Syria to peace, and to seek justice for the victims," Pinheiro said in a statement.
The team of investigators has repeatedly urged the UN Security Council to refer the crimes to the International Criminal Court, to no avail.
In Friday's report, they once again called for the situation to go before the ICC, but also suggested the cases could be referred to an ad hoc international tribunal -- something that would not necessarily require Security Council blessing.