IRRI and EHAHRDP Oral Statement on the Adoption of the UPR report on Somalia
Delivered by Kafia Omar
24 June 2016
Thank you Mr President.
The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project and the International Refugee Rights Initiative welcome steps taken by Somalia to strengthen the human rights framework since its last UPR, such as creating the Ministry of Women and Human Rights and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However there are three critical areas that are urgent to address to ensure Somalia continues to strengthen its promotion and protection of human rights: the environment of human rights defenders and media workers; abuses committed against civilians by armed actors in the country, and the need for inclusive nationality laws.
Human rights defenders and media workers continue to face threats to their safety and security, including violent retaliation such as killings and harrassment for reporting on security and governance issues. Although the armed group Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the majority of appalling human rights violations against media workers, the Government of Somalia itself has placed unacceptable restrictions on the right to freedom of expression with closures of radio stations and arrests of journalists deemed critical of the government, and the introduction of laws and policies contrary to its international and regional human rights obligations, such as the media law signed by the President in January 2016. Media workers have expressed concern that broad provisions are likely to prompt self-censorship. We therefore strongly urge the government to take effective and meaningful steps to implement the important recommendations put forward during this examination and ensure the creation of a safe and enabling environment for media workers and human rights defenders.
In addition, there have been a series of well-documented human rights violations committed against civilians by the African Union Mission in Somalia and the country’s own security forces. In light of this, we urge Somalia to devote attention to raising awareness among its forces and AMISOM in the areas of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and to conduct investigations into violations perpetrated by these actors.
Moreover, in the previous review, Somalia committed to making progress in providing gender equality and rejecting historical discrimination in its laws. Yet its current nationality law can lead to statelessness for children of Somali women who cannot pass on their nationality. Therefore, we urge Somalia to address the issue of nationality expediting the necessary reform of its laws.
Thank you once again, Mr President.