GENEVA (28 January 2010) – The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Dr. Shamsul Bari, issued a strong warning on the security, human rights and humanitarian situation in the country, including Somaliland and Puntland. Dr. Bari described as “extremely serious” the situation in South and Central Somalia, where civilians continue to bear the brunt of the fighting between forces of the Transitional Federal Government forces (TFG) and Islamist armed groups.
At the end of his fourth monitoring mission to the Horn of Africa, the UN expert shared reports about grave violations of women and children’s rights, including the recruitment and use of children by several parties to the conflict. He added that “corporal punishment in the name of Sharia Law by such groups, including floggings and amputations following summary if any proceedings, arbitrary detention, death threats and intimidation are reportedly taking place.”
“The Islamist Forces fighting to topple the TFG are reported to have carried out extrajudicial executions, planted mines, bombs and other explosive devices in civilian areas, and used civilians as human shields,” said Dr. Bari, adding that “fighters from both sides are reported to have fired mortars indiscriminately into areas populated or frequented by civilians.”
The UN expert stressed that “journalists and human rights defenders in all parts of Somalia continue to face severe restrictions, increasing death threats and are often victims of targeted killings for their work.”
“The suspension of the humanitarian assistance and the discontinuation of the food distribution with continuing restrictions by armed groups to humanitarian access by targeting aid workers,” said Dr. Bari, “violate rights to protection, adequate food, medical care and shelter.” In his view, “that may amount to violations of international humanitarian law.”
During his visit to Kenya and Somalia (12 - 24 January), the Independent Expert met for the first time with TFG’s President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and members of his government, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi. Dr. Bari was unable to visit Mogadishu and the South and Central due to security constraints.
On the situation in the Puntland, the UN expert acknowledged the state authorities’ commitment to improve the rule of law and culture of democracy and human rights. However, he noted that “piracy, human trafficking and mixed migrations remain the most serious challenges to the Puntland Government.”
“Piracy and the huge money it generates may pose a security threat not only to Somalia and the region, but to the whole world,” said Dr. Bari, warning that “the recent killings targeting senior politicians in Puntland raise legitimate security concerns regarding the spread and the attempt of terrorist groups to destabilize Puntland and Somaliland.”
“The stabilization of Somaliland and Puntland could have a positive impact on South and Central Somalia,” the UN human rights expert stressed. He urged the international community and the UN to strengthen international engagement and support to Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland.
“This increased support is required particularly for the implementation of the three pillars of the Djibouti process -political, security and recovery- which all include cross-cutting human rights issues,” Bari said.
Dr. Shamsul Bari (Bangladesh) was appointed Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia by the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2008. He is independent from any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.