The European Union and European Union Member States congratulate the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights () for having issued their first report regarding the state of freedom of expression in Somalia. The EU and EU Member States strongly believe in and encourage freedom of expression: it is a key foundation stone of democracy and a fundamental right of every human being.
As the report makes clear, killings, beatings, harassment, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, lack of due process or fair trial guarantees, and closure of media outlets continue to take place across Somalia, often based on the accusation of spreading “false news” punishable under the Somali Penal Code.
We remain concerned that the large majority of these cases are not being investigated. The EU and EU Member States see the State as having an obligation to respect, protect and promote the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and therefore look to State authorities to systematically respond, investigate and prosecute such cases so that so that impunity gives way to respect of human rights. We also recognise the need to repeal laws that criminalise the “dissemination of false news” and ensure that NISA is regulated with effective oversight mechanisms and accountability measures.
The EU and EU Member States advocate that in the coming weeks an enabling environment for public participation in debates linked to the democratic transition is enabled – including by guaranteeing the right to freedom of association and peaceful assembly – as contribution to a more democratic and inclusive process.
We welcome the recent passing on the law to establish a Human Rights Commission and call upon the FGS to ensure this independent body is created as quickly as possible so that it can carry-out its critical role in the promotion and protection of human rights for all, including the right to freedom of expression.
The EU and EU Member States stand ready to support the implementation of the recommendations provided in the report and invite the Somali authorities and other partners to use this as a tool to address essential issues related to Freedom of Expression in Somalia.