ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS STAND-ALONE HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON ASSISTANCE TO SOMALIA IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RIGHTS

HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS STAND-ALONE HIGH-LEVEL INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE ON ASSISTANCE TO SOMALIA IN THE FIELD OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Begins Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia
24 September 2013

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a stand-alone high-level interactive dialogue on assistance to Somalia in the field of human rights.  The Council also began an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that the human rights situation in Somalia continued to be very challenging.  Continued attacks by Al Shabab reminded all about how much work remained to be done in the fight to ensure security for all people living in Somalia.  The implementation of the post transition roadmap would not be possible without a serious commitment first from the Government, duty bearer, to ensure that the roadmap’s substantial human and financial resource requirements were met.  The international community should stand ready to support the Government in this regard. 

Abdi Farah Shirdon, Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, sent condolences to the Kenyan Government and people, who had lost loved ones in the cowardly attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.  Al Shabab had been weakened, but attacks such as that of this week were reminders of the difficult journey ahead.  Somalia was making progress in rebuilding institutions without which the enjoyment of human rights could not be achieved, though challenges remained.  The Government recognised the critical role that civil society and the Somali diaspora played in the reconstruction.
 
Shamsul Bari, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said the task of reconstruction and reconciliation in Somalia could be best paved by establishing a solid human rights protection regime which would have the active support of the people of Somalia.  The Government had adopted a human rights roadmap for the years 2013 to 2015 and a Ministry of Human Rights had been created to coordinate its proper implementation.  Over 20 years of armed conflict had destroyed many social norms and values as well as the social fabric and the basic institutions that kept Somalia together in the past.

Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, said that the promotion of human rights and capacity-building were key parts of the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.  Human rights observers would be present on the ground to help the Government investigate human rights violations, including relating to children in armed conflict and sexual violence against women.  Despite the political commitment of the Government, the implementation of the roadmap would require a joint effort.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia, said that the Mission’s key activities were of military and security nature, but it also provided assistance to the reconstruction operation.  Military operations had been run on strict rules, which meant that collateral damage was kept to a minimum.  In parallel, the Mission continued to provide assistance to the Government, including rebuilding schools, rehabilitating health infrastructure and supplying medicines.

Zahra Nur, National Coordinator, Forum for African Women Educationalists, Somalia, said challenges faced included new governance institutions in an insecure environment, food insecurity, rape and internal displacement, among others.  The concerted efforts of civil society, the Government and the international community could address violence and discrimination against women.  The development of action plans and the creation of human rights forums were some of the important goals in addressing the gender-based human rights situation.

Fartuun Adan, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, said that women and children needed protection and the Government had to ensure their security.  Civil society was willing to work together with the Government to improve the situation and to face the current challenges.  There were a lot of issues concerning gender based violence.  The main challenge was the absence of protection.  The Government had to ensure security for civil society organizations and vulnerable groups.

Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, Director General of Horn Cable TV, said that journalism in Somalia was a dangerous occupation.  The attacks on journalists and press freedom were growing and alarming.  The culture of impunity in the country made the situation even worse.  There had been a growing trend of terrorist groups targeting the family members of journalists.  The Federal Government had to ensure the security and rights of journalists.  Systematic State abuses and denial of protection occurred in Somalia.

In the discussion, speakers welcomed the adoption of a national roadmap for the promotion and protection of human rights in Somalia as well as the Somali Compact and other efforts undertaken by the Government to promote respect for human rights.  Speakers also condemned and sent their condolences to the people of Kenya, with regards to the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi, which was a sad and timely reminder that the security of Somalia could not be separated from that of the Horn of Africa.  Despite outstanding progress, there was still a risk of setbacks.  It was particularly important to ensure that all new legislation was human rights-sensitive and the rights of the most vulnerable groups needed special attention.  The political and security stakes were important but they also had to deal with the urgent humanitarian needs and the promotion and protection of human rights.

Speaking in the discussion were Gabon on behalf of the African Group, European Union, United Kingdom, Palestine, Italy, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Kuwait, Bahrain, United States, United Arab Emirates, Eritrea, Mexico, Austria, Kenya, Djibouti, Switzerland, Denmark, Turkey, Maldives, Sudan, Egypt, Ireland, Japan, Nigeria, Australia, Morocco, Yemen, Norway, France, International Development Law Organization and Organization for Islamic Cooperation.

International Educational Development, International Federation of Journalists, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, Human Rights Watch and Mothers Legacy Project also spoke.

At the beginning of the afternoon, the Council started its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia.

Surya Prasad Subedi, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, presenting his report, said Cambodia had come a long way since the conclusion of the Paris Peace Agreements in 1991.  However, Cambodia still had some way to go in promoting and protecting human rights, strengthening good governance, and enhancing the independence and capacity of State institutions responsible for upholding people’s rights.  It stood at a crossroads and the international community had an important role to play to continue assisting the people and the Government take the road towards a fuller liberal democracy, underpinned by sustainable peace and equitable economic development.

Cambodia, speaking as the concerned country, said it was fully aware that there was still much work to be done, in spite of progress.  It shared and remained committed to the principles and the value of democracy and human rights and believed in pragmatic approaches, taking into account the historical dimension, cultural uniqueness and tradition of the country concerned. 

Speaking in the discussion were Japan and Australia.

The Human Rights Council will resume its work on Wednesday, 25 September at 9 a.m. to continue its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia, before holding interactive dialogues with the Special Rapporteurs on Somalia, Sudan and the Central African Republic. 

Documentation

The Council has before it the report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia (A/HRC/24/36).

The Council has before it a note verbale dated 12 September 2013 from the Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations Office at Geneva addressed to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/24/G/10).

Presentation by Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

SURYA PRASAD SUBEDI, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia, said he regretted that his first mission to Cambodia in December 2012 met a frosty reception and that no senior officials were available to meet with him.  He had also been subjected to some raw comments that descended to a personal level.  The focus of the dialogue between the Special Rapporteur and the Government should remain strictly on substance of the work mandated by the United Nations.  On a more positive note, the Special Rapporteur said during his second mission to Cambodia, in May 2013, he met a broad range of stakeholders, including senior members of Government who were forthcoming with information and willing to cooperate in a constructive manner to address the remaining challenges concerning greater protection of human rights, stronger democracy and genuine rule of law in Cambodia. 

Since the report was finalized on 23 July, Cambodia had witnessed unprecedented developments, largely related to its General Election on 28 July.  A political renaissance was underway in the country.  Major positive steps made prior to the election included the release of a prominent human rights defender, Mam Sonando, and the pardoning of the Leader of the Opposition, Sam Rainsy.  The election was largely peaceful and the significance of that could not be understated, the Special Rapporteur said.  However, he added, there were allegations of massive electoral irregularities and the Government and National Election Committee’s failure to facilitate prompt, impartial, transparent, credible and thorough investigation of the alleged irregularities was a concern.  The Special Rapporteur added that most of his recommendations for electoral reform contained in his previous report had not been adopted.  Furthermore, the opening yesterday of the National Assembly took place in the presence of only one political party, as the opposition party had boycotted the session because of its dissatisfaction with the way complaints of electoral irregularities had been dealt with.  The Special Rapporteur deeply regretted the failure of the two parties to reach agreement.  

As the people of Cambodia grappled with a period of uncertainty in the aftermath of the elections, they fervently hoped that peace would withstand.  Therefore it was a shock when just over a week ago ordinary people in Phnom Penh once again took to the streets to voice their discontent.  Security forces clashed with the protestors, leading to one tragic death, and injuries.  The Special Rapporteur urged the authorities in the strongest possible terms to refrain from further use of violence and underscored that peaceful assembly was a human right.  The Special Rapporteur continued to believe that the leaders of Cambodia could still, even at this late stage, make the election a milestone in the journey to making Cambodia a just, equitable and free society.  Cambodia had come a long way since it adopted its new Constitution, based on liberal and democratic values, in 1993, but it still had a long way to go.  Today Cambodia stood at a crossroads.  The international community had an important role to play in assisting the people and Government of Cambodia to move towards a fuller and liberal democracy underpinned by sustainable peace and equitable economic development.

Statement by the Concerned Country

Cambodia, speaking as the concerned country, said that the relevant authorities in Cambodia had replied with comments on related issues and concerns contained in the report and were thankful for the Special Rapporteur’s kind understanding about the lateness of the replies.  Cambodia had taken steps to address the continued challenges related to the overall human rights situation that remained high on the agenda, especially the implementation of its economic and social agenda in order to reduce poverty and improve the well-being of Cambodians.  Legislative reform was being carried out in areas including environmental impact, the prison system and trade unions, in cooperation with development partners including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia.  Progress had also been made in the implementation of some international treaty obligations.

Cambodia regretted that a few unfortunate incidents had occurred in connection to the national elections, in particular during the later stages.  Although some stakeholders had welcomed the overall conduct of the elections, Cambodia had called upon the parties concerned to resolve the shortcomings outlined, in accordance with the Constitution.  Nevertheless, the election had taken place amid levels of peaceful participation.  The rallies that prevailed throughout the country were unprecedented and the election was seen as a new level of democratic maturity for the Cambodian people.  Last week, the leaders of the two winning political parties had met on two occasions and reached agreement on some issues, including reform of the National Election Committee.  Overall, Cambodia was fully aware that in spite of progress made, there was still much work to be done.  It shared and remained committed to the principles and value of democracy and human rights and believed in pragmatic approaches, taking into account the historical dimension, cultural uniqueness and tradition of the country concerned. 

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Cambodia

Japan said it supported the rule of law and judicial independence in Cambodia and strongly requested that measures be taken to achieve progress on that issue.  Japan remained concerned by human rights violations over the land concession issue.  Japan had financially supported the Khmer Rouge Tribunal but was concerned that growing financial constraints were impacting upon its operation.  Japan welcomed the July elections but was concerned about the independence of the National Election Commission.

Australia welcomed Cambodia’s engagement with the Special Rapporteur and urged Cambodia to work towards the goal of its citizens enjoying the equality and freedoms set out in its Constitution.  Australia welcomed the peaceful holding of elections in July, as well as the recent statement by political parties committing to electoral reform.  Australia noted progress made by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal but remained concerned about its financial situation.  It urged the Council to extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.

Stand-Alone High-Level Interactive Dialogue on Somalia

FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, commended the Human Rights Council for having taken the initiative of organizing today’s event.  It was an important opportunity for all stakeholders to reflect on how to improve the life of people in Somalia, so that Somali people could begin to enjoy all basic rights to which they were entitled to.  Three years ago, the Council for the first time in its history had held a stand-alone interactive dialogue to discuss how various stakeholders working in Somalia could address the humanitarian and human rights situation in the country.  So much had happened in Somalia since that historic event – the end of the political transition ushered in an elected President, an elected speaker and a new Parliament.  There had been a lot of positive momentum and the recently concluded New Deal for Somalia was a step in the right direction towards generating support for Somalia to bring it out of its fragile situation and set the basis for its reconstruction over the next three years. 

In the area of human rights, the situation continued to be very challenging.  People were caught in the middle of the crossfire between the parties to the conflict.  Somalia remained a dangerous place for human rights defenders and journalists to conduct their activities as they often were targets for assassination.  This year alone, six journalists and two human rights defenders had been assassinated.  The situation in terms of economic, social and cultural rights was still grim as the conflict had disrupted all areas of life, including access to education and health services.  Humanitarian workers continued to face many challenges.  The female genital mutilation rate remained very high at 97 per cent and sexual and gender based violence was still pervasive with internally displaced women and girls being most at risk.  The situation was compounded by further absence of strong rule of law institutions to ensure accountability and an effective protection of human rights.  The continued attacks by Al Shabab reminded how much work there was still to do in the fight to ensure security for all people living in Somalia. 

The post transition human rights roadmap was based on a six pillars policy that established the rule of law as a key for the nation’s reconstruction.  The roadmap provided the basic foundation for the respect of human rights and human dignity which had been long denied to the people of Somalia.  The main objective of the political programme of the Somali Government was to build “a Somalia co-existing in peace; living peacefully with the neighbours and the world; under the rule of law and on the path to development”.  The implementation of the roadmap would not be possible without a serious commitment first from the Government who were the duty bearers to ensure that the roadmap’s substantial human and financial resource requirements were met.  The international community should stand ready to support the Government in this regard. 

The Office of the High Commissioner stood ready to work with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) to support the Federal Government of Somalia uphold the commitments it had made under the Universal Periodic Review and as a signatory to human rights instruments so that these commitments were translated to meaningful rights for the Somali people.  The fact that the Mission’s human rights presence would increase was a positive step.  Human rights monitoring would help to ensure a better knowledge of the ongoing abuses, and define the areas for required priority actions by the Government and international actors involved in Somalia, as well as policy gaps and gaps in technical cooperation.  The Office of the High Commissioner was fully aware that in as long as the challenges - particularly in terms of security - were not addressed adequately, then the Human Rights Component would not be able to fully discharge its monitoring and reporting mandate. 

ABDI FARAH SHIRDON, Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, sent, on behalf of the Government and people of Somalia, condolences to the Kenyan Government and people, who had lost loved ones in the cowardly attack at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.  Terror had no boundaries.  Al Shabab had been weakened, but attacks such as that of this week were reminders of the difficult journey ahead.  A military solution alone was not enough.  The Government was committed to addressing education and unemployment across the country.  It was essential to create educational and economic opportunities for the youth.  Somalia was making progress in rebuilding institutions without which the enjoyment of human rights could not be achieved, though challenges remained.  The Government took an unprecedented step by giving women key portfolios and had, among other steps, appointed the first woman to become the governor of the Somali Central Bank.  A week-long national human rights campaign was also held, as well as consultation meetings with representatives of civil society on a post-transitional human rights roadmap.   Somalia was committed to the protection of journalists and a reward was offered for reporting crimes against journalists.

The Universal Periodic Review recommendations had begun to be implemented and Somalia needed bilateral and multilateral cooperation in a timely and tangible manner.  Sexual violence and exploitation were serious problems in Somalia.  Action had been taken to ensure that perpetrators of such crimes were dealt with in accordance with the law.  There was no tolerance for sexual violence against the most vulnerable groups.  The Government was tackling impunity head on.  In the realm of employment, it passionately believed in the promotion of decent work and strengthening the capacity of relevant institutions.  The Government recognised the critical role that civil society and the Somali diaspora played in reconstruction.  A greater collaboration with these important stakeholders was called for.  The indispensable role to be played by the Somali diaspora in their host and home countries was also highlighted.  The proactive engagement of the Independent Expert was commended.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General were also thanked. 

SHAMSUL BARI, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, thanked the organizers for holding this stand-alone interactive dialogue with the participation of so many key persons who could influence the future of Somalia.  The task of reconstruction and reconciliation in Somalia could be best paved by establishing a solid human rights protection regime which would have the active support of the people of Somalia.  The Government had adopted a human rights roadmap for the years 2013 to 2015 and a Ministry of Human Rights had been created to coordinate proper implementation of the roadmap.  Over 20 years of armed conflict had destroyed many social norms and values as well as the social fabric and the basic institutions of the nation that kept it together in the past.  The international community would come forward to provide Somalia with the necessary support.  The commitment made by international donors at the New Deal for Somalia Conference held in Brussels recently to provide the Federal Government with around $ 2.4 billion dollars for the next three years to be used for peace and State building, was a clear indication of the international community’s readiness to help Somalia.  If a part of that money was used to implement the human rights roadmap, many more such pledges would be forthcoming in the future.

NICHOLAS KAY, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, said that the promotion of human rights and capacity-building were key parts of the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia.  Its human rights and protection group would discharge this part of the mandate, led by a human rights chief and senior advisors on women and children’s human rights.  Human rights observers would be present on the ground to help the Government investigate human rights violations, including relating to children in armed conflict and sexual violence against women.  Work had begun in some key protection areas.  A top priority was the protection of civilians and the prevention of sexual violence.  Rape and other forms of sexual violence remained one of the most serious and recurrent human rights violations.  The Mission was working with United Nations agencies on the ground in monitoring the situation of women’s rights.  In collaboration with various United Nations agencies initial steps to protect children were being taken, including through reviewing and strengthening the existing United Nations task force on monitoring and reporting and continuing dialogue with the Government to identify immediate implementation priorities.  The mandate also included collaborating with the African Union Mission in Somalia, such as on the provision of policy advice to the Government.  The Mission had started to ensure that the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy was implemented.  There were also efforts on establishment of a joint task force on preventing sexual violence and abuse.  Despite the political commitment of the Government, the implementation of the roadmap would require a joint effort.

MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia, said that the Mission was made of more than 17,000 personnel.  Its key missions were of military and security nature, but it also provided assistance to the reconstruction operation.  There was a zero-tolerance policy for non-respect of human rights.  For some time, all military operations had been run on strict rules, which meant that collateral damage was kept to a minimum.  In parallel, the Mission continued to provide assistance to the Government, including rebuilding schools, rehabilitating health infrastructure and supplying medicines.  Free treatment was provided to hundreds of people.  The Mission’s work was to fight Al Shabab while making sure that human rights were respected.

ZAHRA NUR, National Coordinator, Forum for African Women Educationalists, Somalia, said the magnitude of human rights violations in Somalia was unprecedented.  The challenges faced included new governance institutions in an insecure environment, food insecurity, rape and internal displacement, and kidnappings and piracy.  Female genital mutilation, maternal deaths and infant mortality were also high.  The clan dominance of governance structures was a challenge to the establishment of systems for human rights and the rule of law.  Civil society actors believed that strengthening these systems was important, as was holding perpetrators of human rights violations against women and girls and placing women in positions of governance.  The concerted efforts of civil society, the Government and the international community could address violence and discrimination against women.  The development of action plans, the creation of human rights forums, the integration of gender analysis in institutions, and advocacy for internally displaced persons were important goals in addressing the gender-based human rights situation.

FARTUUN ADAN, Executive Director, Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre, said that civil society organizations in Somalia were advocating for recognition of their work.  Women and children needed protection and the Government had to ensure their security.  Civil society actors were willing to work together with the Government to improve the situation and to face the current challenges.  There were a lot of issues concerning gender based violence.  The main challenge was the absence of protection.  The Government had to ensure security for civil society organizations and vulnerable groups.  The authorities should listen to civil society.  Simple criticism was useful to recognize mistakes and to make sure that they were not repeated.

MOHAMED ABDI MOHAMED, Director General of Horn Cable TV, said that journalism in Somalia was a dangerous occupation.  Journalists faced daily threats and their security was not ensured.  The attacks on journalists and press freedom were growing and alarming.  The culture of impunity in the country made the situation even worse.  There had been a growing trend of terrorist groups targeting the family members of journalists.  The Federal Government had to ensure the security and rights of journalists.  Systematic State abuses and denial of protection occurred in Somalia.  Restrictions had been imposed on the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression and they should be lifted.

Interactive Dialogue on Somalia

Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said it was pleased to welcome the Prime Minister of Somalia at this difficult time for the country but the efforts toward peace had to be kept up.  External funding for terrorist groups active in Somalia must end.  The African Group, in line with speakers from the United Kingdom, Italy, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, United States, Eritrea, Austria and Djibouti, condemned the terror attack in Nairobi in the past few days and expressed sympathy to the people of Kenya.  For its part, Kenya said it was concerned by the ability of Somalia to handle its security at home or abroad, as shown by the terror attack in Nairobi, and thanked delegations who had expressed sympathy in the wake of that attack.  The European Union said it had given 1 billion euros to Somalia over the last five years and last week it hosted a conference on a New Deal Compact for Somalia, a development that received support from Djibouti, which added that it welcomed the integrated approach of the Secretary-General to Somalia.  The commitment made by the Government of Somalia to a human rights programme was welcomed by Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, and Italy, which was heartened by the transition to democracy taking place, however tentatively.  Italy added that the political dialogue between federal and regional structures had to be strengthened.

Sierra Leone thanked the panel for its comprehensive review of the situation in Somalia, and said that the post transitional road map for human rights was to be welcomed; due to it, durable solutions could be found.  Sierra Leone, United Kingdom, United States, and International Educational Development welcomed the attention to women and children in the road map.  The latter was concerned that female genital mutilation was not mentioned.  However it was pleased to note that the Prime Minister had mentioned it in his statement.  Sierra Leone also noted that unless socio-economic rights were addressed, peace would be difficult to maintain, but enhancement of the “peace dividend” should nevertheless take place.  Ethiopia said the high-level interactive dialogue was a positive step forward in the strengthening of State structures, including the establishment of a rights commission and appointment of women to public positions in Somalia.  Concern for human rights defenders, civil society and journalists was expressed by Austria, the International Federation of Journalists and Eastern Horn of Africa Human Rights Project, which asked what efforts were being made to ensure freedom of expression and opinion. 

Kuwait said the Government had already taken tangible steps on its road map with the passing of several crucial rights laws.  Donations for Somalia from Kuwait continued, and Kuwait called for an adequate response from the international community to rebuild Somalia.  Bahrain said it wished for the improvement of the security situation in Somalia, and the stability of the present Government in Somalia was hoped for.  The setting up of hospitals and schools were among the projects being supported financially by Bahrain.  The United Arab Emirates said it pinned many hopes on the road map described by Somalia to address the multiple human rights challenges faced by the country.  The international community had to honour the financial commitment it had made to Somalia if institutions were to be built and the work so far undertaken were to last.  Questions addressed to the panel from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, included: What was the timetable of implementation of the human rights road map?  How could the Government protect the rights of vulnerable groups such as internally displaced persons?  What could the panellists say about the establishment of a national human rights institution in Somalia?  Djibouti asked what was the panel’s assessment of the strengthening of the security forces?

Switzerland welcomed the adoption of a national roadmap for the promotion and protection of human rights in Somalia as well as other efforts undertaken by the Government to promote respect for human rights and integrate this goal in its programmes.  Sudan also greatly appreciated the vision of a post transition human rights roadmap, particularly regarding the capacity building in the new Government until it was able to lay a solid basis for human rights.  Ireland welcomed the significant progress made in Somalia in the past 12 months, especially the Somali Compact, a historic milestone on its road to peace, stability and economic recovery.  Japan said that despite the dedicated efforts of the Government, slow progress towards good governance and the rule of law was still present.  A decisive stance was important in ensuring human rights in the country and Egypt reiterated its firm commitment to support the Government in executing the urgent tasks of State-building.

Turkey said that despite outstanding progress, Somalia still risked setbacks.  Terrorism was the main threat for the establishment of an environment conducive to human rights in Somalia.  Maldives condemned the recent attack by Al Shabab in Nairobi.  It noted the Government of Somalia’s efforts to embark on the human rights roadmap initiative which aimed to safeguard the rights of the Somali people.  Australia said that Somalia had been exemplary in recognizing the human rights challenges and asking the Council for assistance.  The Compact would help provide a framework for coordination assistance in target areas.  At this crucial time of State building, the Government was urged to ensure that human rights were enshrined in laws that would be established.  Denmark said it was important that Somalia’s stabilization efforts helped to promote human rights; challenges remained in this area.  It was particularly important to ensure that all new legislation was human rights-sensitive and the rights of the most vulnerable groups needed special attention.  Morocco said that they had had a sad and timely reminder that the security of Somalia could not be separated from that of the Horn of Africa and condolences were sent to the people of Kenya.  The political and security stakes were important but they also had to deal with the urgent humanitarian needs and the promotion and protection of human rights.  Nigeria said that since the establishment in 1993 of the mandate of the Independent Expert, close to 40 resolutions and decisions had been adopted.  The time had come to embark on a thorough analysis of all these good initiatives, understand why their impact had not helped, and find solutions for their effective implementation. 

Yemen welcomed the support of the Office of the High Commissioner to Somalia and the report and the recommendations contained in the report of the Independent Expert.  The promotion of human rights in Somalia would require an integrated action plan and Yemen hoped that the international community would provide support.  Norway congratulated the Somali Government for its focus on human rights, for example, the creation of a Minister for Human Rights, and noted with interest that all regional constitutions made reference to human rights.  Norway recommended a systematic monitoring which could contribute to improving the human rights situation.  France welcomed the dialogue and the high-level involvement.  The rule of law was crucial for the protection of fundamental rights and France called on Somalia to address the culture of impunity.  France called on all stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of the roadmap and asked for specific information on the setting up of a human rights commission.  Did Somalia intend to adopt an official moratorium on the death penalty?

International Development Law Organization referred to its technical support provided to Somalia in drafting the Constitution and a justice sector plan.  Input was also being finalised for a number of bills which would be submitted to the Ministry of Justice by the end of September and the organization was contributing to re-establishing the justice sector.  Organization of Islamic Cooperation said that the recent attack in Nigeria showed the impact of the Somali crisis on neighbouring countries and the need for solidarity with the Somali people.  To that end the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was looking at providing specific support to Somalia.  The organization’s contact group had met at a ministerial level and had set up an aid bureau, which would be converted to a development bureau. 

Human Right Watch said that the situation in Somalia remained dire and Al-Shabab as well as armed groups continued to carry out abuses.  Public commitments to tackling abuses had been made but concrete changes were needed and they urged Somalia and other stakeholders to ensure that sustained reporting was put in place.  Mothers Legacy Project welcomed the recent education initiative and the recognition of the role of women in Somalia’s society.  Conflict had two sides, positive and negative, the transformation process was underway in Somalia and the NGO thanked the Prime Minister for reflecting this process.

ABDI FARAH SHIRDON, Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia, thanked all speakers for their important contributions.  The remarkable attention and support expressed by speakers was encouraging.  The Government was committed to the institutionalisation, as well as the promotion and protection, of human rights.  A human rights commission would be established soon.  The international community could provide expertise and capacity-building in this regard.  An independent commission would be set up to monitor the situation of internally displaced persons.  Concerning the recruitment of child soldiers, the Prime Minister said that Somalia had ratified the relevant Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and would abide by it.  Today was a historical milestone for Somalia.  The Government’s priorities were to improve security and the justice system and to provide basic public services.  All these had to be achieved and would be.  Mr. Shirdon ensured all speakers that their concerns would be taken into account by the relevant authorities.

NICHOLAS KAYE, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, said that this afternoon’s rich discussion had shown that there was a lot of support for the work of the Government and of the United Nations in Somalia.  There was a need to focus on a limited number of priorities to make tangible changes.  The advice of civil society was important and the Government should continue to listen to civil society organizations.  Realism was needed; the challenges were real on the ground in Mogadishu.  They had to be realistic on how much and how quick things could be achieved.  They could do it if they all worked together.

MAHAMAT SALEH ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of African Union Mission in Somalia, expressed his agreement with other panellists in that they all agreed with the diagnosis of the challenges of Somalia, but ideas about the treatment may differ.  Institutional building and awareness-raising to tackle thematic human rights concerns such as women’s rights, children’s rights, child soldiers and refugees were underway.

SHAMSUL BARI, Independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said that the road map would identify the areas of most importance in terms of immediate human rights challenges and the time frame of the implementation of appropriate measures; this was where the international community could step in and offer specific help on practical steps.  


For use of the information media; not an official record

HRC13/122E