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UN expert condemns series of stonings in Somalia, urges religious groups to reflect on their actions

27 November 2009
GENEVA -- The Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari, on Friday condemned the series of stonings that have been taking place in Somalia, and called on all parties to immediately refrain from and abolish the practice of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments, including stoning, amputations, floggings, and other unlawful acts of torture and murder.
“I would like to extend my solidarity and sympathy to the Somali people in view of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country including the summary executions, floggings and stoning to death carried out in public by Islamist armed groups in South and Central Somalia,” Dr. Bari said.
On November 18, 2009, according to reports from a village near the town of Wajid, 400 km north-west of the capital, Mogadishu, a 20-year-old woman divorcee accused of committing adultery was killed by Islamists in public. The woman was taken to an open area where she was buried up to her waist. She was then stoned to death in front of a crowd of about 200 people.
Earlier this month, a man was stoned to death for rape in the port town of Merka, south of Mogadishu, and in October two men are reported to have been executed after being accused of spying. Similar executions took place earlier in the year.
Under the Al Shabab group’s interpretation of Sharia law, anyone who has ever been married – even a divorcee – who has an affair is liable to be found guilty of adultery and punished by being stoned to death.
"I strongly condemn these recent executions by stoning in Al-Shabab-controlled areas of Somalia, including that of the woman accused of adultery in the Wajid area, and of Abbas Hussein Abdirahman in the town of Merka," Bari said.
He urged all Islamist groups, including Al Shabaab and other armed groups and religious leaders to abide by their international human rights and international humanitarian law obligations.
"I call on all relevant parties to immediately refrain from and abolish the practice of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments, including stoning, amputations, floggings, various other corporal punishments, and further unlawful acts of murder and torture which amount to crimes under the International Law," Bari said. "Today is the start of the Eid Al Adha, an extremely important event in the Muslim calendar. It is a good moment for all those in power who are inflicting suffering on individuals and, indeed, on the population in general, to reflect on how they can help people, in accordance with religious principles, rather than harm them."
He also urged the International Community to engage with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to identify priorities in terms of security, humanitarian and human rights and to strengthen the capacity of the Government to investigate human rights abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable.
"On the occasion of this important religious feast, the Eid Al Adha, I express my solidarity to all the victims and their families," Bari said. "This should be an occasion of piety and celebration. Instead, for them, it is marked with great sadness and loss."