Somalia needs ongoing international help to tackle rights challenges, says UN expert
GENEVA / MOGADISHU – The international community must continue to help Somalia strengthen its institutions and the justice and security sector ahead of the next elections, says UN Independent Expert Bahame Tom Nyanduga.
“Somalia has made considerable progress in the political, economic, social and human rights situation over the past six years, but there is much more to do,” Nyanduga said, presenting a statement at the end of a visit to the country.
“I urge the international community and Federal Government of Somalia to address the negative effects of climate change on the population, and ensure access to basic human rights such as water supply, health services, and education for all children, in particular girls.
“Somalia also faces many other challenges including the continuing conflict, inequality, discrimination and youth unemployment, as well as delivering economic, social and cultural rights,” Nyanduga said.
The Independent Expert commended the people of Somalia for their resilience in the face of conflict, terrorist bomb attacks, natural disasters, grave violations of human rights and other challenges, such as poverty and lack of basic necessities for their livelihoods.
He also expressed concern at the delay in the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission, and the lack of progress on a Sexual Offences Bill. “I urge the Federal Government and Federal Parliament to address these challenges as a matter of priority to enhance protection of human rights in the country,” he said.
Nyanduga welcomed the establishment of Alternative Dispute Centres in several of Somalia’s States, which play an increasingly key role in the settlement of local civil cases.
The Independent Expert pointed to progress in several areas including the recovery of territory by Somalia’s security institutions, AMISOM troops and bilateral forces. He praised the increased number of women in Parliament and cabinet, saying it highlighted the importance of women participating in public affairs, in peace and reconciliation, and in decision-making on matters that affected them directly.
He urged Federal Parliament to include within the proposed electoral law specific mechanism to ensure representation of women, minority clans and other vulnerable groups in Parliament, rather than leaving this task to the election commission. If it doesn’t do so, it risks losing the gains made in 2016.
Nyanduga also welcomed Somalia’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He stressed the importance of respecting the right to freedom of expression and opinion of journalists against a backdrop of reports of continuing intimidation, arbitrary arrests and harassment.
The expert also called for action to end the endemic problem of sexual and gender-based violence, in particular allegations of gang rapes across the country. “A strong judiciary and police force will greatly contribute to the elimination of conflict-related sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence,” he said.
He also urged the international community to pay special attention to the water crisis in Somalia, which has been the source of regular lethal conflict between clans, and to help the Government to find long term, durable solutions. “Access to water is a basic necessity of life and a fundamental human right, and will contribute significantly to peace and reconciliation among clans,” Nyanduga said.
During his 12-day visit, Nyanduga went to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Nairobi, and held talks with Federal government and Somaliland officials, and representatives of the United Nations, AMISOM, the donor community, and civil society.
The Independent Expert’s findings will be presented in a comprehensive report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2019.