General Debate On Somalia And South Sudan

Human Rights Council: 21st Session
Item 10: General Debate
Oral Intervention
East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)

Delivered by Mr Ahmed Mohamed Ali

Thank you Madam President.

As South Sudan develops its state institutions, and with new leadership in Somalia, tackling impunity must be a matter of priority in both countries.

We echo the concerns contained in the High Commissioner’s report on technical assistance for South Sudan about the intimidation and arrest of journalists and human rights defenders in the course of their activities. While the initiation of a police investigation into the abduction of a prominent civil society activist in July should be commended, the findings of this and other investigations need to be made public and perpetrators brought to justice. Human rights defenders have an essential and complementary role to play in the promotion and protection of human rights and should be allowed to demand accountability without fear of reprisals.

We are encouraged by South Sudan’s request for further technical assistance and urge the international community to provide the necessary support.

Madam President

As stated in the SG’s report on UN support to end human rights abuses and combat impunity in Somalia, there is an “unprecedented opportunity to advance human rights” in the country. For it to be realized, the impunity currently enjoyed by perpetrators of serious human rights violations must be ended. Urgent support is needed to strengthen the justice system and for the establishment of an independent national human rights commission.

The Monitoring Group has reported that 7 of every US received by the TFG in 2009-10 “never made it into state coffers”.

We call on the new Somali Federal Government to end widespread corruption in the country.

Systematic human rights monitoring and reporting is essential to ensure accountability for abuses. We call on the UN to strengthen the presence and monitoring capacity of the Office of the High Commissioner on the ground.

Thank you Madam President.


Human Rights Defender of the month: Veronica Almedom

Veronica Almedom is a poster child of successful immigration. A duo Eritrean and Swiss citizen, she was born in Italy, and grew up in Switzerland where she permanently resides. Her parents are some of the earliest victims of Eritrea’s cycles of violence. When Eritrea’s war of independence peaked in the early 1980s, they escaped the country as unaccompanied minors, wandering through Sudan, Saudi Arabia, before making the hazard journey across the Mediterranean into Europe. There, they crossed first to Italy, and finally, to Switzerland, where they settled first as refugees, and later, as permanent residents.