Somalia: London Conference Must Address Human Rights and Accountability
22nd February 2012
Representatives of 50 countries and international organisations will meet tomorrow, 23rd February 2012, in London, UK for an international conference on Somalia. Participants in the London Conference must ensure that accountability and respect for human rights are central to the Somali political process, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) said today.
EHAHRDP welcomes the UK Government’s consultations with representatives of Somali civil society in Nairobi, Kampala, and Mogadishu, as well as with the Somali diaspora community in the UK, but regrets that civil society will not take part in the London conference this week. “Too often human rights concerns are sidelined in talks to resolve the problems in Somalia,” said EHAHRDP Executive Director, Hassan Shire Sheikh. “Those working to defend human rights in the country must be fully included in the state-building process from day one.”
Although not among the seven key outcome areas for the London conference, human rights and accountability are a vital component in building a peaceful and stable state. Human rights defenders
and media workers have an important role to play, but remain at risk of harassment, intimidation and attack. EHAHRDP reiterates its call for timely, independent and impartial investigations into the January 2012 killing of Hassan Osman Abdi, the director of Shabelle Media Network, the latest of at least 20 media workers killed in Somalia in the past five years. Those responsible should be brought to justice in criminal prosecutions that meet international fair trial standards.
The Garowe II Principles signed this month include steps towards tackling impunity and EHAHRDP calls for their full implementation. The announcement that the next constitutional consultative conference, to take place in Mogadishu before the end of March 2012, will focus on fundamental rights and freedoms is particularly timely. Likewise, the exclusion of anyone with a record of serious crime or crimes against humanity from eligibility for membership of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission and the National Constituent Assembly is significant and must be respected. Persons with criminal records will not be eligible to stand for the new federal parliament.
“Tackling the prevailing climate of impunity for human rights abuses is an essential step towards ending the cycles of violence and deadly attacks on civilians,” said Mr Shire Sheikh. “Tomorrow’s conference in London is an opportunity for the international community to commit tangible support for rebuilding a culture of respect for human rights in Somalia.”
For more EHAHRDP work on Somalia, please see:
3rd February 2012 Open Letter from EHAHRDP to H.E. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Accountability for Attacks on Radio Shabelle and Other Media Workers in Somalia, available at: https://defenddefenders.org/2012/02/re-accountability-for-attacks-on-radio-shabelle-andother-
29th September 2011 Press Release, “Geneva: Investigate and Ensure Accountability for War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Somalia,” available at: https://defenddefenders.org/2011/09/geneva-investigate-and-ensure-accountability-for-warcrimes-