Oral Intervention: Consideration of Universal Periodic Review Report on Somalia

Human Rights Council: 18th Session
Item 6:  Consideration of Universal Periodic Review Report on Somalia
Oral Intervention
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)
21 September 2011


Delivered by Mr. Hassan Shire Sheikh, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network commend Somalia’s engagement with the UPR process and the inclusion of a Puntland representative in the delegation to the Working Group, and congratulate its willingness to accept all recommendations.  Among the many recommendations received, we urge the TFG, and Puntland and Somaliland institutions to prioritize the need for justice for serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law committed by all parties.

We welcome therefore the recommendation to establish an independent international commission of inquiry or similar mechanism to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity, and call on the authorities to ensure that those responsible for atrocities are brought to justice in fair trials and respecting due process. As the Government recognized during the Working Group, “it is not only a political imperative but also a social necessity to deal with the legacies of past atrocities, justice and reconciliation.” This justice must be impartial and independent in order to rebuild robust state institutions fit to deal with the serious challenges facing the country, such as the continuing food crisis.

In common with other civilians in Somalia, civil society actors have been the victims of indiscriminate violence, but they have also been targeted on account of their work. The particular dangers facing human rights defenders and journalists were recognized by a number of delegations during the review. A sad confirmation of this was an attack just last week on a Somali journalist was shot four times as she left her office and left in a critical condition. Authorities in Somalia should urgently carry out effective and impartial investigations into all killings and attacks on journalists and civil society actors in the areas under their control.

Along with Somaliland and Puntland, Somalia should respect and protect freedom of expression and end all practices that put this right at risk. In addition to investigating and preventing violent attacks and threats against independent journalists and human rights defenders, this means allowing human rights defenders and journalists to carry out their legitimate activities freely, ending all forms of censorship and the frequent closures of independent radio stations. We look forward to seeing the implementation of the UPR recommendations in this regard.

Thank you.

Additional Somalia UPR Resources

Report of UPR working group on Somalia: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/18session/A-HRC-18-6_en.pdf
Somalia UPR webcast of Review and Adoption: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/SOWebArchives.aspx
Somalia UPR documentation: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR%5CPAGES%5CSOSession11.aspx


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.