UN Expert urges action on Somalia

The civilian death toll in Somalia for the first seven months of this year is higher than for the same period last year with more than 900 people estimated to have died and a further 2,500 injured 1 , according to the United Nations independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari.

A makeshift shelter provides refuge from the sun for these Somali refugees © UNHCR E.HocksteinBari recently completed his fifth visit to Somalia and is calling on the international community, including the United Nations and the African Union to work together to “provide effective protection to all civilians and to ensure accountability for perpetrators of gross human rights and international humanitarian law violations that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

The Independent Expert will table his latest conclusions at the September meeting of the Human Rights Council. In a series of reports to the Council Bari has urged action to protect civilians in Somalia and highlighted the need to establish mechanisms to combat impunity and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Following his latest visit, Bari again describes a desperate situation where “many children and young people risk being recruited by armed groups and used in the front lines and [where] there are generations who have known nothing but violence and conflict.”

Bari wants action from the international community to “explore all possible means to stop summary executions, including beheadings of innocent people; amputations; floggings; whippings; forcible marriages of young girls to militiamen; the use of civilians as human shields; the imposition of strictest dress code for women; the prohibition of public mass media; the bans imposed on listening to music; and public gathering, all with due lack of process.”

23 August 2010

1. Figures from various sources including the Elman Human Rights Group