US human rights chief Navi Pillay says there is enough evidence to bring human rights charges against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his year-long crackdown on protesters.
“Factually there’s enough evidence pointing to the fact that many of these acts are committed by the security forces, (and) must have received the approval or the complicity at the highest level,” she told the BBC.
“President Assad could simply issue an order to stop the killings and the killings would stop...” Pillay explained. “So this is the kind of thing that judges hearing cases on crimes against humanity will be looking at on command responsibility.”
Pillay told the BBC that Assad's president’s role as commander of the security forces left him responsible for their actions - and at least 9,100 deaths - during the ongoing unrest.
The Syrian army’s use of heavy weapons against civilians in densely populated areas was a crime under international law, said Pillay.
“There is no statute of limitations so people like him can go on for a very long time but one day they will have to face justice,” she said, referring to Assad.
Pillay also spoke of evidence she had seen that the regime was systematically targeting children - kidnapping and torturing them - in its bid to stamp out resistance, saying “It’s just horrendous.”
The BBC interview with Pillay was broadcast on Wednesday, but recorded before Assad formally accepted a peace plan proposed by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Shortly before her visit to the country reports of "mop-up operations" by Assad's forces in fallen rebel strongholds began to reach the international press.
Accounts of war crimes, including systemic rape and torture, and mass executions, have become commonplace as Assad's forces routinely shell civilian areas.
Syrian forces on Wednesday launched fresh attacks on rebel strongholds as U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon urged Assad to immediately implement the U.N.-Arab League peace plan.
Meanwhile, the Arab League on Thursday called for a halt to violence in Syria as fighting continues despite Damascus having formally agreed to the peace plan.