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Somalia: UN expert completes his second Field Visit

The Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari, issued the following statement on the last day of his Second Field Visit to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

SANA’A – During his second field mission, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari, was not able to visit that country and its capital, Mogadishu, due to the security constraints, but focused on the neighbouring States to get a best picture of the situation in Somalia to update his report to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009.

From 22 November to 2 December, the Independent Expert travelled to Djibouti, Kenya -including a visit to the Dadaab Refugee Camp- and Yemen, where he visited the cities of Sana’a and Aden. On Tuesday 2, in Sana’a-Republic of Yemen, Dr. Bari completed his Second Field Visit to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.

In Djibouti, the Independent Expert participated -from 22 to 26 November- in the preparatory conference on Justice and Reconciliation organized on 22 and 23 November by the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations Political Office (UNPOS) for Somalia with the expertise of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). There, he met with members of the High Level Committee from both the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) as well as members of Somali Civil Society.

Dr Bari met on 25 November in Djibouti with the Somalian Prime Minister, His Excellency Nur Hassan Hussein, and the Somali vice Primer Minister, Abdi Salam, in addition to many other members of the Somalian Federal Government and Parliament (TFP), as well as members of ARS and the representatives of the regional organizations such as the African Union.

The Independent Expert attended and welcomed the Decisions of the High Level Committee concerning a power sharing agreement between the TFG and the ARS, in particular the establishment of a Unity Government and an enlarged inclusive Parliament. He also applauded the decisions of the two parties to establish a Commission of Inquiry (COI) and an International Tribunal with a view to address gross violations of human rights and the International Humanitarian Law to move forward on accountability and an end to impunity in Somalia.

Dr Bari reiterated to the Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein his concerns about the deteriorating situation of human rights in Somalia, especially the stoning to death of a young girl in Kismaayo on 29 October and the targeting and recent assassination of women human rights defenders, UN Staff and Journalists. The Prime Minister stressed his own condemnation of the stoning case and renewed his commitment to further improve the human rights situation in Somalia with the operationalization of the enlargement of the Parliament and the establishment of the Government of Unity.

In Kenya, Dr. Shamsul Bari visited the Dadaab Refugee Camp on 27 October and talked to a number of new arrivals and heard very painful stories about the desperate situation of refugees who have been coming to Kenya in larger numbers in recent months. The latter expressed their wish to be involved in the Djibouti peace process. They also emphasized the need to provide education to young people.

In Yemen, the Independent Expert met in Sana’a on 29 October with H.E Dr. Ali Muthana Hassan, the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and H.E Ali Saleh Taiseer, the Deputy Minister of Human Rights, on 1st December. The Yemeni Government reiterated its commitment to host the Somali refugees and others as best as they could and expressed in the meantime the need for further support from the international community in view of the increasing number of refugees estimated at 700.000 persons and the limited resources of the host country.

Dr. Bari visited on 30 November the town of Aden and talked to new arrivals in Al Basateen District which is populated of Somalis or mixed Somali-Yemeni population. The stories that the Independent Expert heard about the traumatizing experience of refugees crossing the Gulf of Aden, in particular the number of dead in the sea drowning convinced him about the need for urgent and coordinated action from the international community. Dr. Bari was saddened that despite the dangers and the large number of lives lost at sea, the new arrivals and the elders repeatedly stated that they have no alternative but to continue to flee their country to save their lives, as the conditions in Somalia were getting worse.

The Independent Expert would like to express his gratitude to the Yemeni and Kenyan Governments for their commitment and generosity to hosting large number of Somali refugees and urged the international community to take appropriate measures on the various aspects on the alarming situation of human rights of Somali people in and outside Somalia. He intends to make specific recommendations on the situation at the March Session of the Human Rights Council.

Dr. Shamsul Bari congratulated the Government of Djibouti and the SRSG of UNPOS for their determination to move forward on the peace process and called upon all the parties to the conflict to abide by their international human rights and humanitarian obligations and to join in an inclusive manner the Djibouti Agreement.