Somalia urged to take ‘concrete action’ against officials who violate citizens’ rights

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The UN independent human rights expert on Somalia on Thursday called on authorities to step up efforts to address the country’s complex and serious security challenges.
 
 Concluding an official visit to the Horn of Africa nation Isha Dyfan highlighted the impact on civilians, especially women and children, who continue to bear the brunt of deadly attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab terrorists.

“I strongly condemn the continued deadly attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabaab and urge the Government to take all steps to ensure the protection of civilians, and for armed groups to comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian and human rights law,” she said.

“It is also important that the Government takes concrete actions to prosecute State officials involved in human rights violations, ensuring that those responsible were held accountable and that the survivors of such violations were adequately compensated.”

During her visit, she held a series of meetings with representatives from the Somali Federal Government, civil society, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), and various UN agencies.

Act against sexual violence

Ms. Dyfan also urged authorities to promptly investigate and prosecute cases of sexual and gender-based violence.

Allegations of rape and gang rapes combined with homicide need to be addressed efficiently, ensuring that alleged perpetrators are identified and brought to justice, she said.

“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,” she added. 

Restrictions on civic space

The independent expert further voiced grave concerns over 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, and rule of law, and can help to reduce and prevent violence,” she urged.

“While I am encouraged by the appointment of the Somali National Media Council members in an effort to enhance the media landscape, I have also received concerns that the process was not in accordance with the media law,” she added.

International assistance urged

In conclusion, Ms. Dyfan also appealed 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,” she said.

Independent expert

Ms. Dyfan was appointed as the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia by the Human Rights Council in May 2020.

She forms a part of the Council’s Special Procedures, a group of Special Rapporteurs and other experts, mandated to monitor and assess the protection and promotion of human rights in certain thematic or country situations. 

The experts work voluntarily, are not UN staff, and do not receive a salary.

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