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Somalia: UN rights expert urges Government to strengthen justice system despite Sunday’s attacks

GENEVA (17 April 2013) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, condemned in the strongest terms Sunday’s deadly bomb and gun attacks at the Banadir Regional Court and near the airport in Mogadishu. Mr. Bari urged the Somali Government, and the international community, to continue its efforts to strengthen the administration of justice, despite this attack to the justice sector.

“In my various visits to Mogadishu, I have been always encouraged by the commitment of the justice personnel and legal aid providers who conduct their duties in a challenging security context,” the Independent Expert said. “In order to ensure the rule of law and the fight against impunity, the judicial personnel have to be protected and allowed to do their job in a war-torn country like Somalia.”

On Sunday 14 April 2013, armed men targeted an aid convoy close to the airport and stormed the Banadir Regional Court in the Somali capital, killing dozens of innocent civilians, including judges, lawyers, court personnel and persons who were attending the court on the day of attack, and injuring many more. The group Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

While the list of dead and injured is still being completed, local NGOs have confirmed the deaths of Mohamed Mohamud Afrah, head of the Somali Lawyers Association and Abdikarin Hassan Gorod, both working with the Somali Women’s Development Centre. Both lawyers provided legal assistance to countless Somalis over the past years, including legal advice to the Somali journalist Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim, along with an alleged rape survivor whose cases have recently been heard.

“I offer my heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured during the attacks,” added Mr. Bari. “Last Sunday was 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.

Check the Independent Expert’s latest report to the UN General Assembly (22 August 2012): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.21.61_en.pdf

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

For more information and media requests, please contact Alicia Londoño (+41 22 928 9258 / alondono@ohchr.org) or write to ie-somalia@ohchr.org

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

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