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The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Dr Ghanim Alnajjar, issued the following statement today:

Geneva, 17 September 2007: The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Dr Ghanim Alnajjar,will visit Somalia and Nairobi (Kenya) from 17 to 21 September 2007.

In order to gather first-hand information on the human rights situation, Dr Alnajjar plans to meet with officials of the Transitional Federal Government, the judiciary, members of Parliament, clan and tribal elders as well as with human rights defenders and members of Somali civil society. He is scheduled to hold discussions with representatives of international organizations. If the security situation permits, he also plans to visit settlements of internally displaced persons, detention facilities and hospitals.

The Expert is deeply concerned about violations of the right to freedom of expression and opinion and the apparent increase in threats and deadly attacks against journalists and human rights defenders working in Somalia and he intends to consider this issue during his mission.

Following his visit, Dr Alnajjar will discuss the initial findings of his visit at a press conference to be held on Friday 21 September 2007 in Nairobi. He will submit a report, including his final conclusions and recommendations, to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Considering security restrictions and time limitations, the Independent Expert intends that his current mission be only the first part of his annual assessment of the situation of human rights in Somalia. He plans to conduct a second mission to other parts of Somalia later this year.

Dr. Alnajjar is on his fifth annual fact-finding visit to the region since being appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the United Nations Secretary-General in June 2001. His mandate, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, is to assess the prevailing human rights situation in Somalia and report his findings to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations. Dr. Alnajjar is a professor of Political Science at the University of Kuwait and carries out his duties on a voluntary basis.

For further information on the Independent Expert or his visit, please contact:
OHCHR Media Unit, +41.22.917.9602/9383/9242, press-info@ohchr.org or
UNDP Somalia Press Officer, Susanne Morell at +254-720204992