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Somalia / Suicide attack: UN expert calls for an international protection force to shield civilians

GENEVA (5 October 2011) – The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, condemned in the strongest terms Tuesday’s suicide attack in Mogadishu, and called on the international community to deploy an international protection force to support the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) “to protect innocent civilians from these unacceptable crimes and contribute to the stabilization of the country.”

“I am shocked and appalled by the clearly deliberate murder of a significant number of innocent Somali citizens, most of them students and devoted civil servants,” Mr. Bari said. “It was with great sadness that I learned that at least 65 people lost their lives in this suicide attack, many of them students standing waiting for their exam results, and hoping for scholarships to Turkey and Sudan.”

One of the greatest tragedies of the prolonged crisis in Somalia has been that several generations have been deprived of education, Bari said recalling a very similar attack at a graduation ceremony in December 2009. “These attacks, which targeted some of the country's very few university-level students, as well as the dedicated civil servants working to enhance Somali public institutions and social services under extremely difficult circumstances, are a direct blow to the fabric -- and future -- of the nation.”

The UN rights expert said he had hoped that the recent withdrawal of Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu would open up a new era of peace and stability, and urged the international community “to step up and consider deploying an international protection force to complement the work of AMISOM to stabilize the capital and protect innocent civilians.”

Mr. Bari also called on the international community “to strengthen the capacity of the Somali Government to investigate this appalling crime and to prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

“I appeal to all Somalis, at all levels of society, to join me and make it clear they condemn in the strongest manner this atrocious act, which is unacceptable and unjustifiable under any circumstances, and to do whatever they can to help prevent any more atrocities of this type from taking place, as well as to bring those responsible to justice,” the Special Rapporteur said.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured,” he added. "It is another terribly sad day for a country that has already suffered so much for so long.”

Dr. Shamsul Bari (Bangladesh) was appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

See the Independent Expert’s reports on Somalia: http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?m=48

OHCHR Country Page – Somalia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Idrissa Kane (Tel.:+ 41 22 928 9810 / e-mail: ikane@ohchr.org) or write to ie-somalia@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, OHCHR Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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