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UN expert urges new Somalia leaders to respect human rights, rule of law

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Shamsul Bari on Wednesday welcomed [press release] the elections of the new president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud [BBC profile] and the new Speaker of the Parliament Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawaari, urging them to respect the rule of law and human rights. He warned the government that it will face challenges in altering its citizens' negative view that manifested during decades of oppression and violence under the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) [CFR backgrounder]. The UN expert recommended that the government must end killings of civilians and protect journalists, women, children, displaced people and minority members in order to gain support. Bari also called for a "Post-Transition Human Rights Roadmap" that informs the public how the human rights situation in the country will improve, and he urged the international community to provide the country with financial and technical resources. Mohamud was elected as president [Al Jazeera report] on Tuesday by a vote of 190 to 79 in the parliament.

The elections are the latest step in Somalia's transformation to a peaceful nation. In August Augustine Mahiga [official profile], head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) [official website], expressed growing concern [JURIST report] over the continuing delays in selecting the new parliamentarians. A week before, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Somalia and Mahiga welcomed [JURIST report] the presidential decree on the Somalia's National Security and Stabilization Plan (NSSP). Earlier that month, the country's constituent assembly approved [JURIST report] a draft of the new constitution with over 96 percent of the 645 ballots cast in the special 825-member assembly after eight days of debate. The new constitution also has to be ratified by a national referendum. In June President Ahmed and the TFG signed [JURIST report] a decree establishing the legal framework by adopting a new constitution convened by the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). In May Somalia was called on to address the issue of legitimate judicial systems [JURIST report] in Mogadishu and South Central Somalia after the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia found that there were significant difficulties in harmonizing Sharia law with modern international and human rights law.

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