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UN rights expert: Somalia should strengthen justice sytem following attacks

The UN Independent Expert on human rights in Somalia on Wednesday urged the Somali government to continue efforts to strengthen the country's justice system [press release] in the wake of Sunday's attacks on the Supreme Court complex [JURIST report]. The attacks by al Shabaab [NCTC backgrounder] rebels killed more than 30 people, including judges, lawyers and court personnel. UN expert Shamsul Bari said, "In order to ensure the rule of law and the fight against impunity, the judicial personnel have to be protected and allowed to do their job in a war-torn country like Somalia." Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] characterized the attacks as war crimes [press release], saying that, "The current focus on judicial reform in Somalia is critical."

Somalia has recently come under criticism for human rights violations. HRW reported last month that displaced people in Somalia face the risk of physical abuse [JURIST report] and rape. HRW noted that the threat of beatings and rape from internal security forces was significant and called for the practices to end. According to HRW, "Instead of finding a safe haven from fighting and famine, many displaced Somalis who came to Mogadishu have found hostility and abuse." Earlier in March, a Somali appeals court judge dropped charges [JURIST report] against a woman who alleged she had been raped by Somali government security forces and was consequently charged with defamation against the government.

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