Human Rights Council considers the worsening situation in Somalia
Friday, 30 September 2011 15:42

On 28 September at the 18th session of the Human Rights Council, Independent Expert, Mr Shamsul Bari, presented his report on the situation in Somalia. Mr Bari began by pointing out that in the few months since completing his report the situation has worsened. Recent droughts in the Horn of Africa have further exacerbated the famine in Somalia. In combination with the ongoing armed conflict, the result is the worst case of human deprivation in Somalia that Mr Bari has reported on in the past three years. Mr Bari said it was of crucial importance that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia makes a strong commitment to improving conditions in Somalia, to show people the difference between life under the Government and life under Al-Shabab rule. Of course, as he also stressed, this could not be achieved without immediate, coordinated, and substantial financial and technical assistance from the international community. Mr Bari also pointed to the successful review of Somalia in its recent UPR and the signing of a roadmap by Somali leaders towards creating a strong Government and constitution.


The Somali representative, responding to the report, also highlighted their recent participation in the UPR, and the fact that Somalia accepted in full 151 recommendations and in part the remaining four. He called for financial and technical assistance from the international community, so that Somalia could begin to implement these recommendations and work towards the promotion and protection of human rights. He said that Somalia was very eager to fix the many issues facing it today, and that they had invited a number of Special Rapporteurs to visit the State to assist with this process.


All State speakers recognised the very serious situation currently facing the Somali people. Of primary importance is the need to address the immense famine facing the country. Other matters of concern included: large numbers of internally displaced persons and the lack of human rights afforded to them; the issue of refugee camps in bordering countries and the many dangers facing Somali people in the camps; the forced disappearances, torture and summary executions currently being carried out against human rights defenders and journalists; the issues of piracy, illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste; the difficulties faced by humanitarian workers trying to enter Somalia; problems of human trafficking; violations of women’s and children’s rights, including a failure to provide education for children and the use of child soldiers; and large numbers of civilian deaths in the armed conflict.


Many States commended Somalia on its acceptance, in full or in part, of all of the UPR recommendations. The potential of the roadmap as a means of securing human rights was also noted. The European Union urged those involved with implementing the roadmap to ensure that it leads to the creation of a State in which human rights can be upheld. The Czech Republic made the same point, saying that the TFG should make use of the constitution-building process to make strong laws that promote and protect human rights in Somalia. Canada highlighted the importance of a democratic government being created in this process.


Many States recognised the need for the international community to cooperate and provide further assistance to Somalia and several, including Australia and the United States, supported the Independent Expert’s call for the UN and African Union to coordinate their efforts in Somalia. Senegal, speaking on behalf of the African Group, pointed out that the current efforts being made by the international community were minimal considering the gravity of the situation in Somalia, and called on the international community to react rapidly, strongly, and in cooperation to address the many problems facing Somalia.


The various NGOs that spoke, such as Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International, also noted the need for the international community to react immediately and in cooperation. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also called for an increase in the monitoring and documentation of human rights violations occurring in Somalia, so that those responsible can be held accountable in the future.


In his concluding remarks, Mr Bari stressed that the main priority of the TFG should be to ‘raise the flag’ of human rights as much as possible. He said that the people of Somalia have lived too long without a real concept of human rights, and they needed to be reminded that they do have basic rights and that the Government will work to promote and protect these. He also pointed out the need for the Government to create a national human rights institution, and for priority to be placed on rebuilding schools and hospitals, with generations of Somali children having grown up without access to education. He stressed that the Somali people need to be involved in every step of rebuilding the country and creating a constitution and a strong government if it is to succeed. Mr Bari said the current prime minister seemed committed to establishing a rule of law, to combating corruption, and to creating transparency; and that the international community should aid him to achieve this. He also highlighted the urgent need to assist the many displaced persons and refugees, and to address issues of impunity and accountability. As Mr Bari noted, it will cost the international community to assist Somalia, but there is a very real need for States to take the chance to work with the current Government and address the many issues facing Somalia.

Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2011 16:19
© by The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) 2019