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“Let’s seize the chance to build a new Somalia,” UN human rights expert calls on new authorities

GENEVA (12 September 2012) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, today welcomed the Election of a new President and Speaker of the Parliament by Somalia’s lawmakers, and called on the forthcoming Government and the international community to “seize the opportunity to build a new Somalia where, among other things, the rule of law and the respect of human rights for all Somalis would be the milestones.”

“This is a great victory for the long-suffering Somali people,” Mr. Bari said. “I am overjoyed to learn that Somalia’s Parliamentarians have in a free, fair, transparent and orderly manner elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to serve as the country’s next President, putting in the meantime an end to a long transition period.”

The human rights expert stressed that the post-Transition Government has now a unique opportunity to write a new page of the Somali history with both significant opportunities and huge challenges. “In order to win the hearts and the minds of the people, stabilization, transparency and accountability in all the sectors of the public life should be the guiding principles of the new authorities,” he said.

“Killings of civilians must come to an end. Journalists must be protected. Vulnerable people such as women, children, internally displaced persons and minorities must get more attention. Displaced persons willing to return to their country must be helped to do so,” Mr. Bari said. “Upholding human rights obligations must be at the heart of the action of the forthcoming Government.”

The UN Independent Expert underscored that the new authorities can only win over the minds and hearts of the people by changing the way the country has been managed over the years without any rule of law and authority to turn to. “They have a great momentum to reverse the situation by establishing in the minds of the people that the Government is accountable for their welfare, is aware of their human rights basic needs and keen to return human dignity back to them.”

Mr. Bari also called for the development of a Post-Transition Human Rights Roadmap to provide the people with a clear picture of how it seeks to improve the human rights situation in the country with a timeline for each Ministry. In his view, the establishment a National Human Rights Commission under the Provisional Constitution would be “another important step forward.”

“I strongly call on the international community as a whole, including the United Nations, to bolster significant financial and technical resources in a collective effort to help the new Government to build a new Somalia,” said the Independent Expert.

“I would like to congratulate Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on his election as President of the Federal Republic of Somalia. I would like also to commend the work and the commitment of the members of the Parliament under the leadership of Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawaari, the new Speaker of the Parliament who played a key in the successful holding of the elections as well as the work of the clan elders who helped onerous responsibilities,” he added.

From 3 to 7 September, Mr. Bari undertook his ninth field visit to Kenya and Somalia. He visited Mogadishu on 4 September where, despite the precarious security situation, he was able to meet the newly elected Speaker, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawaari, members of the Parliament, the co-chairs of the Technical Selection Committee, the AMISOM Force Commander and the civil society organizations. He also met the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mark Bowden, as well as members of the UN Country Team.

Dr. Shamsul Bari (Bangladesh) was appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

Check the Independent Expert’s latest report to the UN Human Rights Council (22 August 2012): http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session21/A.HRC.21.61_en.pdf

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Somalia: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/AfricaRegion/Pages/SOIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Idrissa Kane (+ 41 22 928 9810 / ikane@ohchr.org) or write to ie-somalia@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)

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