Geneva: Investigate and Ensure Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Somalia

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD-Net), the Somali Human Rights Defenders Network (SOHRIDEN) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) yesterday called for accountability and the fight against impunity to be prioritized throughout Somalia. In an oral intervention during the interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on Somalia at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, the organizations fully supported Mr. Shamsul Bari in his recommendation that those who perpetrate abuses against the civilian population should be held accountable.

In an intervention read by Ahmed Mohamed Ali, coordinator of the Somali Human Rights Defenders Network, the organizations denounced the heavy cost that human rights defenders continue to pay for ensuring that violations are monitored and reported. While no journalists may have been killed during the period covered by the Independent Expert’s report, two journalists have been killed in Mogadishu in August and September; others have been arbitrarily detained and tortured during 2011. During the past fortnight, two other journalists were shot at close range and severely injured in Puntland. ‘In such a context, we regret that civil society representatives were not included in recent consultative meetings on ending the transition, and call on the Government, donor states and UN agencies to offer political as well as logistical and financial support to civil society,’ said Mr. Ahmed Mohamed.

The attention given by Independent Expert’s to the current food crisis and the need to deal with the root causes of this catastrophe become ever more urgent and apparent. One significant factor is the culture of impunity and lack of accountability that fatally undermines the ability of government institutions to effectively tackle the serious challenges Somalia faces.

CIHRS, EHAHRDP, SFS and SOHRIDEN therefore fully support Mr. Bari’s recommendation that all those who perpetrate abuses against the civilian population, in transgression of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, should be held accountable in a timely and transparent manner. During the Universal Periodic Review of Somalia, a number of States recommended the establishment of independent international commission of inquiry or similar mechanism to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity. This recommendation and others relating to the administration of justice should be implemented as a matter of priority.

News that preparations are underway to place more UN staff in Mogadishu, including the new Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, is very welcome. The organizations hope that this will provide much needed support to civil society and allow more systematic monitoring and reporting of the daily rights violations committed by all actors to take place.

For the webcast of this statement and the complete Interactive Dialogue with the Independent
Expert on Somalia, please see: http://www.unmultimedia.org/tv/webcast/2011/09/cihrsinteractive-dialogue-on-somalia-33rd-plenary-meeting.html

For EHAHRDP and CIHRS’ statement of 21st September 2011 on Somalia’s UPR, please see:
https://defenddefenders.org/index.php/our-publications/press-releases/134-oralintervention-consideration-of-universal-periodic-review-report-on-somalia

For more information, please contact Hassan Shire, Chairperson of EHAHRD-Net on +41 793 375875 or hshire@yorku.ca or Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer at EHAHRDP on +256 778 921
274 or advocacy@defenddefenders.org.

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