Re-enforce of human rights monitoring and reporting mechanisms in Somalia and Burundi

EAST AND HORN OF AFRICA HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NETWORK

Geneva: Re-enforce human rights monitoring and reporting mechanisms in Somalia and Burundi

Re-enforce independent human rights monitoring and reporting on the ground was the key
message made in two separate statements by East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHARHDP) members, Ms. Fartuun Adan and Mr. Joseph Ndayizeye, at the UN Human Rights Council today.

In her statement to the Council Ms. Adan, Executive Director of the Elman Peace Centre, one of the leading rights organizations still operating on the ground in Somalia, highlighted the current lack of human rights monitoring and documenting in Somalia. Ms Adan pointed at two main reasons for this: the ongoing attacks on human rights defenders in the country, particularly journalists, and the current absence of a permanent international human rights presence on the ground. She therefore urged the Council and other key UN bodies to remedy this situation notably calling on “the Human Rights Unit of the UN Political Office on Somalia and the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), to step up their current efforts to relocate to Somalia”.

Ms. Adan also called on the UN to boost efforts to tackle impunity in Somalia, “Whilst acknowledging the constraints of such activities given the security situation on the ground we call on the UN to immediately step up efforts to map out key past and present violations of human rights law and to identify appropriate accountability mechanisms to ensure that those responsible for these violations are held to account.”

Mr. Joseph Ndayizeye, President of the Burundian organisation Ligue Iteka, highlighted the importance of allowing the Independent Expert on Burundi to report to the 14th Session of the Human Rights Council. {{1}} Mr. Ndayizeye’s intervention highlighted in particular the current absence of an independent national human rights institution, given that the parliament has not yet discussed the bill that would lead to the establishment of such an institution, ongoing politically motivated violence, and restrictions on freedom of association of political parties and civil society organizations as issues requiring particular attention by the Council, notably in an election year (elections in Burundi will take place in May and June 2010).

[[1]] The Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Burundi has not reported back to the Council since September 2008 due to a reading of the clause in the Resolution 9/19 passed at the 9th Session of the Council renewing the mandate which stipulated that “Invites the independent expert to report on his activities to the Council at the session following the establishment of the above-mentioned commission”. [[1]]

Mr. Ndayizeye’s stressed both the monitoring and capacity building aspects of the mandate as being key to ensuring a consolidation of the important steps taken in the realm of human rights in the country so far: “In this context we believe that the role of the Independent Expert is very important. Not only will it allow for an increased monitoring and coverage of violations mentioned above but will also provide support to the Burundi authorities and civil society organisations that require enhanced technical assistance to help establish an institutional framework for the protection and promotion of human rights”.

Despite increased attacks on country specific mandates as the Council by the African group
amongst others, both interventions revealed very clearly that civil society on the ground continue to perceive independent international reporting mechanisms as key to their work and to improving the human rights situation on the ground.

For more information please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Hassan Shire Sheikh, Executive
Director of EHAHRDP on + 256 772 753 753 or Ms Laetitia Bader, Human Rights Officer at
EHAHRDP on + 256 775 141 756 or [email protected] (for French speakers).

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