UPR of Somalia: impunity for human rights violations as conflict continues

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The Working Group on the UPR examined Somalia's human rights record on 3 May 2011. The State was represented by a four-person delegation, and headed by Ms Zahra Mohamed Ali Samantar, State Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister, Transitional Federal Government (TFG). During the introductory statement, the Somali delegation depicted a highly unstable political climate where the Government has limited control of its territory. This was commonly used as an explanation for the lack of human rights protection in the country.

The majority of comments from States focused on issues such as the widespread practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), the continued recruitment of child soldiers, food scarcity, and a necessity to deal with past atrocities through truth and reconciliation. To this end, States made the following specific recommendations and comments:

-The need to eradicate the practice of FGM and ensure implementation of its prohibition in the Somali Penal Code.

  • Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

  • Concern that internally displaced persons (IDPs) do not have access to basic services, and the need to ensure that the international community and humanitarian workers have access to the Somali territory.

  • Continued impunity for violations of human rights.

  • Alarm over the continued widespread and systematic recruitment of children by the armed forces.

  • Serious concern regarding the status of freedom of expression, and the need to ensure the full protection of journalists.

  • Calls for Somalia to promote gender equality across all sectors of society, and to address gender-based violence and discrimination against women, including in IDP camps.

The delegation of Somalia concluded the review by thanking all States for their constructive comments and recommendations, but also reminded them of the limited control it exercises over its own territory. The delegation stated that the Government is considering ratifying the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, it reiterated its commitment to eradicating FGM, ensuring a healthy environment for freedom of expression, and holding accountable all those responsible for human rights violations. The delegation received 155 recommendations for consideration, and will provide responses no later than the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011.

For more information, including statements delivered and the report of the Working Group, see the OHCHR extranet (username: hrc extranet, password: 1session).