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Press briefing notes on Central African Republic and Somalia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:  Geneva
Date: 4 April 2014
Subject:   1) Central African Republic & 2) Somalia

1) Central African Republic

We have received more detailed information on the incident involving Chadian soldiers in Bangui on March 29, following an initial investigation carried out by a human rights team on the ground.

Earlier this week, the team from the Human Rights and Justice Section of BINUCA visited two medical centers (the Hopital Communautaire, and the Hopital General) where most of the survivors are being treated and also visited the site where the shooting took place at PK 12, in the North of Bangui.

According to the information they have collected so far, on March 29, Chadian national army soldiers in a convoy consisting of several military pick-ups entered Bangui, and went to the neighborhood known as PK 12. Several sources told the investigating team that they believed the Chadian force had entered Bangui to extract remaining Chadians and other Muslim inhabitants, in order to save them from further attacks by anti-Balaka.

As soon as the convoy reached the market area in PK 12, around 3:00 p.m., it reportedly opened fire on the population without any provocation. At the time, the market was full of people, including many girls and women buying and selling produce. As panic-stricken people fled in all directions, the soldiers allegedly continued firing indiscriminately.

According to information the human rights team has gathered so far, it seems the Chadian force’s action was totally disproportionate as they were shooting in a crowded market full of unarmed civilians.

According to the team’s preliminary findings, around 30 people were killed as a result of the shooting and over 300 were seriously injured, including children, people with disabilities, pregnant women and elderly people, as they were less able to run for their lives.

2) Somalia

OHCHR has received confirmation of the execution of a man on 3 April in Kismayo, Somalia, after he was accused of killing an elder in the city on 24 March. The man was found guilty last week – it is not clear by whom exactly, but possibly not even by a court. He was executed by firing squad in public on 3 April. The United Nations Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, had urged a stay of execution, including at the highest levels within the regional Interim Jubba Administration which appears to have been heavily involved in the sentencing and execution.

Under international law, the death penalty should only be applied after the most rigorous judicial process. OHCHR is concerned that the hasty judicial process in Kismayo – just nine days between the murder and the execution – meant that the suspect did not enjoy full fair trial guarantees, including  the right to legal representation and the right to appeal. Someone sentenced to death should also have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.

According to reports, more than 34 people have been executed in Somalia since January 2013.

OHCHR calls upon the Somali authorities to place a moratorium on the death penalty, as it committed to do during the 2011 Universal Periodic Review process conducted by the Human Rights Council.

In 2012, the UN General Assembly, for the fourth time adopted a resolution (A/RES/67/176) urging UN Member States to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Somalia was one of the sponsors of that resolution and voted in its favour.

The recent executions in Somalia therefore directly contravene Somalia’s commitments at the international level.

ENDS

For more information or media requests, please contact Rupert Colville (+ 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org ) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org).

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