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UN rights expert applauds Somalia human rights plan, urges broader consultation

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Shamsul Bari on Tuesday commended [press release] the adoption of a human rights roadmap by the Somali federal government. Formally endorsed by the Somali cabinet last week, the roadmap will institutionalize the protection and promotion of human rights through 2015. However, Bari urged the government to consult with regional administrations and civil society organizations throughout Somalia in the finalization of the roadmap, otherwise, Bari noted, implementation may be difficult. "The endorsement of a Human Rights Roadmap no doubt raises high expectation of Federal Government to ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are held accountable." The roadmap enumerates 17 rights, each containing an action plan to be implemented by key ministries, including the newly created Ministry of Human Rights.

Human rights violations have been a continued concern in Somalia. In April Bari urged the Somali government to continue efforts to strengthen the country's justice system after the Supreme Court complex was attacked [JURIST reports] by al-Shabaab radicals. In March Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported 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." Also 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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