ASG for Human Rights Šimonović concludes a five-day visit to Somalia

17 Nov 2015

ASG for Human Rights Šimonović concludes a five-day visit to Somalia

"Today is the last day of my visit to the Federal Republic of Somalia. Over the past few days I have met with many government officials, civil society organisations, colleagues in the United Nations and AMISOM, diplomats here in Mogadishu but also in Baidoa and Nairobi.

And although I have had all these meetings, I thought I really needed one last, an important one, with you the media correspondents. Your role here and anywhere in the world is critical, as you know. But before I take your questions, allow me to share with you a brief report on my visit.

First, despite persisting challenges there is a gradual improvement in the security situation in Somalia. The recent recovery, by the Government, of a substantial amount of territory from Al Shabaab is good news for many civilians. I command the Government of the Federal Republic and AMISOM for their efforts.   
Second, Somalia is also making important progress in building and reforming its institutions, including in the security sector.  During my meetings with government officials, I welcomed steps towards establishment of a Human Rights Commission and urged the Parliament to ensure the Commission’s independence and its compliance with the Paris Principles.

I also welcomed the active participation of the Federal Government in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, their recent ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and urged the Federal Government to ratify the remaining core human rights treaties, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the UN Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). I also stressed the importance of moving away from the death penalty, including by reducing the types of crimes where capital punishment is applied and adopting a moratorium on executions.

The third point I want to make before taking your questions, is that Somalia still face a series of serious human rights challenges that urgently need to be addressed. 

As you are aware, allegations of serious human rights violations during military operations are reported regularly. These include allegations of extra-judicial and summary executions, arbitrary detention, and sexual violence. I call on the Federal Government to step up its efforts to protect human rights and on all security forces operating in Somalia, including the Somali National Army, AMISOM and other foreign forces to take effective measures to prevent and address violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. 
Violations of international human rights and humanitarian law affect the reputation and credibility of security forces. But such violations also alienate the populations they are expected to protect, and can therefore affect the ultimate success in the fight against terrorism.
Overcoming terrorism in Somalia cannot solely be achieved through military means, but necessitates addressing the root causes of terrorism, including poverty, corruption and lack of good governance, social exclusion and marginalization.
Fourth, ahead of the elections and constitution review in 2016, it is important to strengthen democratic space with a free and strong civil society, gender equality and fundamental rights such as freedom of expression and association. There is a need to establish a democratic institutional framework that is inclusive of all communities, clans and both women and men in Somalia. It is also important to ensure at least 30% of women representation in the Parliament. This is a critical step to ensure a more representative Parliament and a contribution to peace, security and reconciliation.
Fifth, another challenge for the Somali national authorities is the protection of the rights of IDPs and returning refugees. In this context, I am outraged by the killings of innocent civilians seeking humanitarian aid yesterday in Mogadishu. I wish to stress that perpetrators of this crime must be identified and punished. Those receiving assistance are vulnerable, and access to humanitarian aid should be prioritized. I call on national authorities to take the necessary security measures to ensure protection of humanitarian access.

Finally, I heard stories of horrible abuses of Somali migrants on their way to Libyan ports trying to get to Europe. The EU and UN should not only be addressing problems of cross Mediterranean threats to migrants, but also those that exist while trying to reach the Mediterranean."