United Nations, Jul 26 : Although Somalia has made ''considerable progress'' in its political, economic, social and human rights situation over the past six years, “there is much more to do,” a United Nations expert said on Thursday, urging the international community to assist.
''I urge the international community and the Federal Government of Somalia to address the negative effects of climate change on the population and ensure access to basic human rights such as water supply, health services, and education for all children, in particular girls'', said Independent Expert Bahame Tom Nyanduga at the end of a 12-day visit to the country. According to Mr. Nyanduga, Somalia also faces “many other challenges”, including continuing conflict, discrimination and youth unemployment, as well as “delivering economic, social and cultural rights”.
The Independent Expert commended the Somali people for their resilience in the face of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, grave human rights violations and other challenges, such as poverty and lack of basic necessities for their livelihoods. He also expressed concern over the delay in establishing the National Human Rights Commission and in progress on a Sexual Offences Bill.
''I urge the Federal Government and Federal Parliament to address these challenges as a matter of priority to enhance the protection of human rights in the country,'' he said.
Turning to progress, he cited territory recovered by Somalia’s security institutions, African Union mission (ANISOM) troops and bilateral forces; praised the increased number of women in Parliament and cabinet; and welcomed Somalia’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Rights at the fore
Mr Nyanduga urged Parliament to include specific mechanism within the proposed electoral law to ensure that women, minority clans and other vulnerable groups were represented in Parliament – or risks losing its 2016 gains.
Against the backdrop of reports of continuing intimidation, arbitrary arrests and harassment, he stressed the importance of respecting the right to freedom of expression and opinion of journalists. The expert also called for action to end the endemic problem of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly allegations of gang rapes across the country.
“A strong judiciary and police force will greatly contribute to the elimination of conflict-related sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence,” he underscored. Mr. Nyanduga also urged the international community to pay special attention to the country’s water crisis, which has been the source of regular lethal conflict between clans, and to help the Government to find long term, durable solutions.
“Access to water is a basic necessity of life and a fundamental human right, and will contribute significantly to peace and reconciliation among clans,” maintained Mr. Nyanduga. The Independent Expert’s findings from his visit to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Nairobi, as well as his talks with the Federal Government and Somaliland officials, and UN, AMISOM, donors and civil society representatives will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.(UNI)