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Somalia: High Level Panel at Human Rights Council Debates Steps Needed to Improve Rights Situation

At a high level stand alone interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in Somalia at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva yesterday afternoon, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project called for improved measures for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists to enable their full participation in building full respect of human rights in the country.

Speakers at this important event included Ms Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights; H.E. Mr Abdi Farah Shirdon, Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia; Mr. Shamsul Bari, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia; Mr Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia; H.E. Mr Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission for Somalia and Head of AMISOM; Ms Zahra Nur, National Coordinator of FAWE Somalia; Ms Fartuun Adan, Executive Director of Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre; and Mr Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, Director General of Horn Cable TV.

In a statement read by Special Programs Officer, Sagal Jibril, EHAHRDP noted that following the adoption of the transitional constitution and the election of a new government this time last year, a number of important initiatives have recently been undertaken that include commitments to advancing respect for human rights in Somalia. For example, the agreement at the Vision 2016 Conference in Mogadishu this month agreed that “the government shall promote a culture of integrity, transparency, and accountability.” The New Deal Compact agreed last week promoted a cross-cutting human rights sensitive approach, and finally of course there is the post-transition human rights roadmap that is the subject of our dialogue today.

In order to see these important positive commitments translated into concrete improvements in the human rights situation in the country, Ms Jibril noted that it is essential that the efforts of human rights defenders are recognized, respected and protected. Civil society in Somalia has worked tirelessly to promote a human rights-respecting culture in Somalia and to overcome some of the most pressing concerns such as sexual violence, abuses against IDPs and restrictions on freedom of expression. They continue this work despite the serious challenges and risks that this brings to them as individuals and organisations.

From EHAHRDP’s work with HRDs in Somalia, the following key measures have been identified to improve their security, including:

–          Concrete commitments from the government to protect HRDs and to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations;

–          Public recognition of the value of HRDs’ work, even where this entails criticism;

–          The timely establishment of the national human rights commissions in line with the Paris Principles;

–          The reinforcement of human rights monitoring and reporting both by national bodies and the UNSOM human rights section, including on issues relating to HRDs.

Ms Jibril ended her statement by asking the panelists what measures are envisaged by the government and other stakeholders to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and journalists in Somalia.

To watch the webcast of the High Level Stand Alone Interactive Dialogue on Somalia, please see:

EHAHRDP’s statement to the Human Rights Council is available here:

For more information, please contact:

Mr Hassan Shire, Executive Director: +41 793 375 875, [email protected] or [email protected]

Ms Rachel Nicholson, Advocacy Officer: +44 754 954 2807 or [email protected]