International partners raise Human Rights concerns in Somalia
On 5 & 6 November 2014, the Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), a group of international partners comprising the European Union, its Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the United States of America, carried-out a mission to Mogadishu as part of its efforts to continue a regular human rights-focused dialogue with Somali and international stakeholders. The mission met with delegations from the federal Ministry of Women and Human Rights and the federal Parliament as well as with a broad range of civil society organisations. Separate meetings were also held with the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and with AMISOM. The mission offered an opportunity to take stock of progress made over the course of the last few months.
The HRWG recognised the important work being carried-out by the UN. Its continued presence in Somalia and key role in the advocacy, protection and furtherance of Human Rights is essential. Therefore, the Group is committed to working closely with the UN to build and strengthen Human Rights throughout Somalia, particularly in the fields of security sector reform, SGBV and child protection.
The Group reiterated its appreciation of the contribution that AMISOM has made to security and stability in Somalia, however, remains deeply concerned over allegations of sexual abuse by AMISOM forces. It therefore welcomes efforts made by AMISOM in response to the Human Rights Watch report on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA). The Group looks forward to receiving the reports of the AU’s independent Research & Assessment and Investigations Teams on SEA that are currently deployed on the ground. The Group took note of the idea put forward by AMISOM of creating a Somali-anchored special victims’ helpline, however, would urge any individual complaints and referral mechanism for victims of SGBV to be embedded in an independent structure which also provides in-depth support.
The Group supports, in particular, the adoption and implementation, by the Ministry of Women and Human Rights, of a National Action Plan against sexual violence. The Group also finds it imperative that all necessary steps be taken to ensure the establishment of a national, independent Human Rights Commission.
The lack of resources and capacity in the Human Rights domain remains a major challenge – the Group calls upon its Members and the wider international community to provide, in a joined-up and coordinated way, the necessary assistance.
The Group took note of several challenges faced by the Parliamentary committee for Human Rights and agreed that their capacity to carry-out their responsibilities needed bolstering. HRWG showed its appreciation for the persistent and courageous efforts made by civil society organisations to defend human rights under very challenging circumstances. It listened carefully to civil society’s concerns regarding the justice sector and CSOs’ relations with the government structures. The Group calls upon the authorities and civil society organisations to engage in a more regular, institutionalised dialogue on the Human Rights strategy for the country.
Finally, the HRWG notes with concern the rising threats to media freedom in Somalia. Independent media and access to information are essential to the realisation of Vision 2016 and for free and fair elections. The Group encourages the adoption of the necessary steps to create a legal framework allowing the media to operate independently and in safety. The Group encourages a transparent debate on the draft media bill that is currently before Parliament to ensure it is in line with international standards and agreed on the necessity of ensuring compatibility with the proposed Communications Act.
The Group looks forward to continuing its dialogue with the Federal Government of Somalia, regional stakeholders, the Somali Parliament, AMISOM the UN and CSOs on Human Rights issues. (END)
For more information:
Delegation of the European Union to Somalia
P.O. Box 45119 Nairobi | Insurance House, Ragati Road, Upper Hill
Tel.: +254 (0)20 280 20 00