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UN rights expert urges the international community to support Somalia on all fronts

MOGADISHU / GENEVA (26 May 2017) – The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, has called on the international community to support the country through its current humanitarian crisis and its on-going State-building process.

“Somalia is experiencing one of its worst humanitarian crisis following three years of drought, which has affected more than half the population, creating an acute food and water shortage, child malnutrition and mortality, and loss of livestock,” said the human rights expert at the end of his fourth mission to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

“This drought has come at a time Somalia has not recovered from the effects of the 2011 drought,” Mr. Bahame Nyanduga noted. “I call upon the international community to respond to the appeal for US$4.4 billion to assist Somalia to deal with its biggest humanitarian crisis in history.”

The UN Independent Expert also called for unremitting support for Somalia’s state-building process and improvement of the human rights situation in the country.

“I urge the international community to continue its technical and financial support to Somalia towards the reform of the police, judiciary and other rule of law institutions, and ensure the establishment of the new justice model, which is the cornerstone of democratic governance,” he said.

“The justice sector should be provided with commensurate resources to those currently being directed towards the security sector,” the human rights expert emphasised.

Mr. Bahame Nyanduga expressed concern regarding cases of detention without trial, police brutality, intimidation of journalists, and other violations of the right to freedom of expression and media rights across Somalia. “I call on the authorities to continue their engagement with media owners and professionals in order to review existing media laws or adopt laws that respect freedom of expression and media rights,” he said.

During his eleven-day visit, the Independent Expert also enquired about the role of traditional elders in the Somalia justice system, where Traditional Dispute Resolution remains strong because of the institutional weakness of formal judicial institutions. He recommended the Federal Government of Somalia, the Federal Member States, and Somaliland “to undertake a comprehensive review of the traditional dispute resolution frameworks in order to ensure that traditional elders protect the rights of women, in particular from rape and other sexual and gender-based violence cases.”

The Independent Expert commended authorities in Puntland for the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Law and the Sexual Offences Law, and urged their wide dissemination and effective application. He also commended the Puntland government for the rehabilitation and integration of young persons arrested during its campaigns against Al-Shabaab.

Mr. Bahame Nyanduga urged the Federal Government to finalise the integration of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law, and ratification of its additional protocols. He further called on the Federal Government of Somalia and Somaliland to finalise the adoption of their respective Sexual Offences Bills.

The Independent Expert commended the Federal Government for holding the 2016/17 electoral process, and the peaceful transfer of power to the newly elected Federal President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo.

He noted the marked increase in the number of women members of parliament, from 38 out of 275 members of the House of the People in 2012 to 67 women MPs, and the election of 13 women members out of 54 members of the newly established Upper House.

“While acknowledging that the number of women MPs did not reach the 30% target of women representatives, this increase is a significant achievement, taking into account that the indirect elections took place at a time when Somalia is still facing security challenges, and that the elections were conducted under a complex, indirect electoral process, which was heavily influenced by male traditional elders,” he stressed.

During his official visit to Somalia, from 15 to 25 May, Mr. Bahame Nyanduga met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministers of the Federal Government of Somalia; the Vice President and Ministers in Puntland; and the Chief Justice, Ministers and senior government officials in Somaliland.

He also held meetings with representatives of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), UN Women, the African Union Mission in Somalia, (AMISOM), as well as members of civil society, traditional elders and religious leaders on the human rights situation and challenges faced in the implementation of their respective mandates and activities in Somalia.

Mr. Bahame Nyanduga will submit a comprehensive report with recommendations at a forthcoming session of the Human Rights Council, aimed at assisting government to fulfil its human rights obligations.

Mr. Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga (Tanzania) was appointed as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, with a mandate to support the Federal Government of Somalia with capacity development and technical assistance in the field of human rights.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights Country Page: Somalia

For more information and media requests, please contact Chafi Bakari (+41 22 917 9817 / cbakari@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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