The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, urged the Federal Government of Somalia to continue putting in place measures aimed at improving the human rights situation, while commending them for the gradual improvement in the political and security situation in the country.Mr. Bahame Nyanduga urged the Somali federal and regional authorities to ensure civil society and the media can enjoy freedom of expression. “Somali journalists are often harassed, arrested, censored, even imprisoned, and media organisations are closed down,” he said after his second mission to the Federal Republic of Somalia, from 22 to 29 May.
“Such incidents risk having a chilling effect on this basic right, particularly essential at a time when Somalia moves towards finalising its State-building process,” the expert said. “I call on the Government to put in place a legal framework that guarantees the freedom of the media, to practise their profession free of intimidation, harassment and imprisonment.”
The Independent Expert also expressed concern at the continued application of the death penalty throughout Somalia, despite the commitment to adopt a moratorium on capital punishment made by the Government to the UN Human Rights Council during the Universal Periodic Review in 2011. “I encourage the Somali authorities to put in place that moratorium,” he stressed.
Mr. Bahame Nyanduga drew attention to the apparent weakness in security and justice institutions, particularly the failure by the police to provide adequate security for the civilian population, including in camps for internally displaced people.
In response, the Government explained its efforts to increase police recruitment, particularly of female police officers and to enhance their technical capacity. Officials also outlined the efforts undertaken to provide protection to victims of rape and gender-based violence, and to encourage victims to use the formal justice system rather than the traditional justice system.
The UN Independent Expert commended Somalia for agreeing to grant access to the Human Rights Section of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to monitor conditions at the Serendi Rehabilitation Centre. He urged the Federal Government and regional authorities to improve the conditions in detention facilities and to particularly address the problem of overcrowding and ensure the construction of separate facilities for juvenile offenders.
Mr. Bahame Nyanduga encouraged the authorities to carry out wide consultations throughout the country to complete Somalia’s report to the Human Rights Council. Somalia’s human rights record will be reviewed in 2016 by other UN Member States through the Universal Periodic Review process.
The Independent Expert urged the Federal Government and the regional authorities to engage in dialogue with traditional and religious leaders in the lead-up to the constitutional referendum and elections in 2016 to encourage inclusive participation of women, minorities and persons with disabilities in the political process.
During his eight-day mission, the UN Independent Expert held discussions with various government officials from the Federal Government of Somalia, the Administrations of Puntland, Jubbaland, the Interim South West Administration as well as with Somaliland.
He also held meetings with representatives of various UN agencies, UNSOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and engaged with civil society including the media, and representatives of persons with disabilities, women, children and minority rights organisations.
Mr. Bahame Nyanduga will submit a comprehensive report with recommendations to the Human Rights Council in September 2015 aimed at assisting government to fulfil its human rights obligations.
The Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Mr. Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga (Tanzania), was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2014 with a mandate to support the Federal Government of Somalia with capacity development and technical assistance in the field of human rights.
The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.