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Further progress in human rights framework is key to Somalia's transition – UN Independent Expert

By United Nations - Office of the UN High Commissione
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GENEVA, Switzerland, December 16, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The new United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, urged the Somali authorities and the international community to reinforce the country's governance and safeguard its full transition to peace, stability and democracy.

“The Federal Government of Somalia together with the international community need to allocate adequate resources to strengthen the rule of law institutions and ensure that the interim regional administrations benefit from the New Deal Compact,” Mr. Bahame Nyanduga said at the end of his first mission to the Federal Republic of Somalia, which took him to Mogadishu, Kismayo, Garowe and Hargeisa.

The Independent Expert noted that, despite severe capacity and resource constraints, the Government has made some achievements in the human rights sphere. These include the adoption of the National Action Plan to combat sexual violence, holding of stakeholders' consultations on the implementation of the human rights road map.

He also commended the Somali Federal authorities for “the gradual improvement in the political and security situation, the ongoing Federal and State formation process, and the peace and stabilisation measures in the newly recovered territories, all of which are critical in the attainment of the vision 2016.”

However, Mr. Bahame Nyanduga noted concern at the capacity and resource constraints affecting the working of the judiciary, and slow progress in establishing the judicial institutions which has contributed to the pervasive role of military courts trying civilians. “Such a state of affairs would undermine efforts to build peace, justice and accountability,” he warned.

“The Federal Government must undertake urgent reforms in the justice sector by establishing an efficient, impartial and independent judiciary as a critical pillar in the administration of justice,” he stressed.

The human rights expert warned about the continued deterioration in the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression. “A vibrant free media is being stifled through harassment, arrest and imprisonment of journalists and media workers,” he said. “This has been compounded by targeted assassination of journalists by Al Shabab.”

“I call on the Federal Government to ensure that the private media in Somalia and journalists enjoy the right to practice their profession and enjoy their right to freedom of expression as well as ensure the safety of journalists,” Mr. Bahame Nyanduga said. “I also call on the media to exercise professionalism and responsible media reporting.”

During his mission the Independent Expert held discussions with the FGS Minister for Women Affairs and Human Rights Development, Attorney General and other senior officials from the Federal Government of Somalia; the Second Deputy Leader, Suldan Abdulkadir Ahmed ('Lugadhere') and Ministers of the Interim Juba Administration; the President of Puntland, ministers and senior officials of both Puntland and Somaliland.

The expert also held meetings with the Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, UN Somalia Country Team officials in Nairobi and Mogadishu, and also met representatives of international and national NGOs operating in Somalia and the media.

Mr. Bahame Nyanduga expects to undertake a second visit to Somalia before he submits his report with recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2015 aimed at assisting government to fulfil its human rights obligations