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UN experts condemn “brutal summary execution” of teenage girls in Somalia

GENEVA (11 November 2010) – Six independent UN experts* on Thursday condemned the recent public execution, by firing squad, of two teenage girls in central Somalia, saying the executions are the latest manifestation of the “appalling human rights crisis that is plaguing the country.”

“We were horrified to learn of the public execution, reportedly carried out by Al-Shabaab insurgents on 27 October in front of hundreds of residents in Beledweyne,” the experts said. “We join the Somali people in condemning, in the strongest terms, these latest brutal summary executions of two young women convicted without any semblance of due process.”

The six experts called on the parties to the conflict “to immediately refrain from committing acts of extrajudicial executions, torture, stonings, decapitation, amputations and floggings as well as other human rights violations, including with regard to freedom of religion.”

The six UN experts, who are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said they were deeply concerned that “groups such as Al-Shabaab are taking Somalia back into the stone age.”

“In Mogadishu and in southern and central regions, judicial institutions have ceased to function,” the experts said, noting that human rights organizations have received credible reports that “in areas controlled by insurgent groups, ad hoc tribunals are judging and sentencing civilians to cruel and inhuman punishments, without proper due process, in violation of both Somali and international human rights law.”

They called on all parties to respect their obligations and to protect civilians, noting that “all parties in the conflict are bound to comply with the terms of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and of customary international humanitarian law, especially Common article 3 which prohibits violence to life and person -- in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.”

In Mogadishu, regular indiscriminate attacks in which heavy artillery, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and roadside bombs have been used, as well as targeted assassinations, have caused thousands of deaths and wounded, as well as destruction of property with whole neighborhoods razed to the ground.

The Independent Expert on Somalia, Shamsul Bari, also pointed to constant reports of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and female genital mutilation, as well as forced child marriages and the lack of educational opportunities for young girls and boys. “Sexual violence continues to rise, not only among the approximately 1.4 million people displaced inside the country, but in other parts of Somali society,” Bari said.

“It is also extremely sad, and deeply worrying for the country’s future, that only 10 percent of Somali children currently attend school.” Bari also noted that frequent reports are also coming in of violations of the freedom of religion, including the destruction of places of worship and cemeteries of Sufi Muslim groups.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims, including the two girls publicly executed in Beledweyne, and call on the international community to never let up on efforts to investigate these unacceptable crimes and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law,” the six experts said.

ENDS

* The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Mr. Shamsul Bari; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Mr. Juan Mendez; the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Mr. Christof Heyns; the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt; the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Ms. Gabriela Knaul; and the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Rashida Manjoo.

Learn more about the the Independent Expert on Somalia: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/countries/so/mandate/index.htm
The Special Rapporteur on torture: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm
The Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/executions/index.htm
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/index.htm
Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/judiciary/index.htm
The Special Rapporteur on violence against women: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/women/rapporteur/index.htm

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

For more information and media requests, please contact:
Idrissa Kane (Tel: +41 22 9289810 / email: ikane@ohchr.org) or
Tsatsu Dawson (Tel: + 41 22 917 9711 / email: tdawson@ohchr.org)