The federal government has released the names of 30 suspected war criminals it says entered the country illegally, and is asking for the public's help in locating them.

The government launched a website Thursday identifying the suspects and calling for any information that could lead to their whereabouts.

CBC News' practice is not to name suspects, and therefore is not publishing the names or photos of the suspects at this time.

Canada Border Services Agency president Luc Portelance said the government had to publish the names and photos in order to find the people.

"Publishing the identities of these individuals strengthens our ability to enforce the law by forcing them out of the shadows and into the hands of the CBSA and our partners in federal provincial and municipal law enforcement," Portelance said.

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Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, centre, and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, right, announce a list of 30 suspected war criminals living in Canada, in Mississauga, Ont. (Morrissey/CBC)

At a press conference in Mississauga, Ont., Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said anyone who has committed or been an accomplice to war crimes should be "rounded up and kicked out of Canada."

He said there are stringent measures to prevent war criminals from entering the country, but it can be difficult to spot those who apply for asylum using false passports.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also warned that these 30 people have been found guilty of terrible crimes. 

"For too long now those who have complicity in such grievous crimes have managed to blend into a trusting and welcoming Canadian society."  

On the CBSA website, the names and pictures of 30 men are accompanied by a statement that reads: "It has been determined that they violated human or international rights under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act or under international law."

'Very extreme'

But at least one of the accused was never linked to any crime, his lawyer says.

Raoul Boulakia says his client, whom he represented in Federal Court and who's on the list of 30, was excluded from immigrating here because he belonged to an organization in Ghana that at one time committed human rights abuses. But he emphasized his client was never found guilty of any crimes nor was any evidence tabled in federal court to that effect. 

"So what the government says about these people is very extreme and, I don't know all 30 cases, but I do know about the one case that I dealt with that it's just not accurate," he said.

Boulakia added that there is nothing wrong with government trying to find these people. 

"But the tone and the actual content of what they're saying is very alarmist and really exaggerates the situation," he said.

Still, the government argues the need to find these 30 men is "acute."

Toews told reporters about 300 people are denied entry to Canada each year because of potential violations to human or international rights.

He said the government may release more names in the future if the website is successful.

with files from the Canadian Press