The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and the UN Human Rights Office and UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) strengthens cooperation in seven key areas, including strengthening the rule of law and the administration of justice; raising awareness of human rights; and building institutional capacity to protect and promote human rights.
It also encompasses the protection and promotion of the rights of particularly vulnerable groups, women, children, internally displaced people and journalists; ratification and implementation of the main human rights treaties; the advancement of economic and social rights; and facilitating cooperation with the independent experts on the Human Rights Council, known as special procedures, who monitor and report on human rights.
At a ceremony held to sign the agreement in the capital Mogadishu, Somali Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, stressed his country’s commitment to human rights.
“The proposed constitution is fully compliant with socio-economic and cultural rights, civil and political rights and all of the fundamental rights of our citizens,” he said.
The Somali Minister for Constitutional Affairs, Aburahman Hosh Jibril, emphasized too, that, “human rights are universal and consistent with the Holy Quran.”
“Human rights have to be at the center of the peace process”, said UNPOS Deputy Representative, Peter de Clercq. “Human rights abuses are at the root of the Somali conflict,” he said.
African Union representative Wafula Wamunyinyi hailed the MoU as a milestone saying efforts to improve human rights are being made on all sides. “The African Union has significantly reduced the impact of the conflict on civilians by prohibiting shelling at night, for example, and training new recruits on human rights and humanitarian law,” Wamunyinyi said.
With the support of the UN Human Rights Office and UNPOS, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government participated in 2011 in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the process by which the Human Rights Council regularly assesses the human rights records of all UN Members States. At the end of that process, Somalia accepted the 155 recommendations from Member States, providing what the MOU refers to as “a comprehensive roadmap for improving the human rights situation in Somalia.”
Referring to the UPR, Anders Kompass from the UN Human Rights Office said, “Somalia has to demonstrate its willingness to abide by its human rights obligations, in particular in the area of fighting impunity. The Government has to investigate human rights violations, including the killing or assassination attempts against MPs, Ministers, journalists and ordinary citizens.”
“The MOU has been conceived in a collaborative spirit,” Kompass said at the ceremony, and “the program of technical assistance will be delivered in a manner that ensures national ownership, participation, [and] transparency.”
Kompass pointed to the existing collaboration between the UN Human Rights Office, UNPOS and the Transitional Federal Government, including projects focused on training of the judiciary and corrections staff, efforts to combat human rights abuses, and violence against women and girls and advice on the incorporation of human rights provisions in the drafting of the new Somali constitution.
Parallel to the technical support that will be provided to the authorities under the MoU, the Human Rights Unit of UNPOS will also step up its monitoring of human rights violations and conditions of detention in Somalia.
18 May 2012