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Somalia: UN expert urges more steps to promote inclusive governance, human rights and accountability

09 May 2024

GENEVA (9 May 2024) – The Somalian Government must bolster efforts to address the country’s ongoing serious and complex security challenges and strengthen processes to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual and gender-based violence, a UN human rights expert said today.

“Civilians, especially women and children, continue to bear the brunt of deadly attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab terrorists and other forces,” said Isha Dyfan, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.  “Joint military operations by Somali security forces and local clan militias also impact the civilian population and infrastructure,” she said in a statement during her third official visit to the country.

“While I welcome the Government's roadmap for the security sector over the next years, I urge the authorities to carefully navigate the security transition to prevent violence and human rights abuses and violations.”

Dyfan said that sexual and gender-based violence, in particular the deplorable allegations of rape and gang rapes combined with homicide that are often reported to be occurring, need to be addressed efficiently, ensuring that alleged perpetrators are identified and brought to justice.

“All necessary measures must be taken to strengthen capacity for investigation and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence and to promote a safe environment where victims and survivors can report crimes without fear of reprisals or stigma and to ensure that victims are protected and have access to justice and effective remedies,” the expert said.

"I am extremely concerned about continuing restrictions on civic space, including harassment, arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment of journalists and media workers leading to self-censorship. A safe and inclusive civic space is essential to good governance, rule of law, and can help to reduce and prevent violence.”

Dyfan commended legislative developments, including the successful vote on amendments to the first four chapters of the Provisional Constitution of the Federal Government of Somalia towards enhancing the promotion of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Somalia.

“I appeal to the international community to continue its assistance to Somalia towards strengthening the Federal and State institutions to promote the rule of law and human rights. I also urge the international community to strengthen its humanitarian response and reinforce long-term resilience against future disasters in Somalia as the country continues to face serious cyclical humanitarian and climate challenges,” the Independent Expert said.

Ms. Isha Dyfan (Sierra Leone) was appointed as the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia by the Human Rights Council in May 2020. Prior to her appointment, she was the Director of International Advocacy at Amnesty International. Before joining Amnesty International in April 2018, she was the Chief of the Human Rights Section in the UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, Sudan (UNAMID) where she served for four and a half years before retiring at the level of director. She is a Barrister-at-Law and educated in Sierra Leone and the UK where she studied History and Law respectively.

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.

OHCHR country page: Somalia

For more information and media requests, please contact: In Geneva, Sandra Atchekpe, [email protected], +41 22 917 8921. In Mogadishu, Ari Gaitanis, [email protected], +252 699 988 015 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact: Dharisha Indraguptha, [email protected] or John Newland ([email protected])

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