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Somali youths urged to defend human rights as UN hails govt for 'improved' record

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Young people have an obligation to defend human rights in Somalia as part of the building process, UN envoy James Swan has noted.

At least two-thirds of Somalia's population are youths aged 30 and below thus their importance in nation-building after decades of war.

In a statement on Tuesday during Human Rights Day, Swan also noted progress in the promotion and protection of human rights by the government.

“The promotion and protection of human rights is a key element in a country’s path to peace and stability. Somalia has made progress in this area," he said.

"With youth making up the majority of the country's population, the onus will lie with them to ensure that Somali society continues in this direction," the envoy added.

Previously, several United Nations records have linked youths to a number of criminal related activities including working for terrorist organizations.

But according to Swan, Somali youths' presence in the promotion of peace and stability will culminate in a better country.

He said: “I encourage the youth to advocate for their rights and the rights of others. Our hope is that they -- together with Somalis of all ages and backgrounds can build a better future."

The theme of this year’s observance is ‘Youth Standing Up for Human Rights.’ It aims to spotlight the potential of youth as constructive agents of change and to amplify their voices.

For years, the Federal Government of Somalia has been linked to several instances of human rights abuse including extrajudicial killings.

Recently, a team of opposition leaders led by former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed agreed with President Mohamed Farmajo to encourage impartiality in the police force.

And the UN believes the Horn of Africa nation has made tremendous progress in the protection of human rights despite the outcry from a section of the opposition.

This progress, the UN says, includes the Government’s re-engagement with international human rights mechanisms such as the Human Rights Council, the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the passing of the Women’s Charter for Somalia.

"The UN system in Somalia remains committed to supporting the promotion and protection of human rights for the benefit of the Somali people," the statement read in part.

UN is keen to promote peace and stability in Somalia ahead of 2020/21 polls, which it maintains must be "one person, one vote" model.

Despite pushing to the model, a section of opposition leaders led by Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur has termed the move 'unreasonable".


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