[JURIST] The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, called on Somalian authorities Wednesday to recreate and establish legitimate judicial systems [press release] in Mogadishu and South Central Somalia. Bari visited the region for the eighth time recently on an 11-day mission. He found that one of the biggest challenges facing the country’s judiciary is the “harmonization” of Sharia law with modern international and human rights law. He says he has seen the almost total collapse of legitimate judicial and law enforcement institutions in those regions:
Threats, intimidation and attacks against judicial personnel are an almost daily occurrence. Lack of personnel, equipment, and infrastructure, and poor professional training make the judiciary in Somalia a virtually paralyzed entity. The inclusion of the justice and corrections sectors in the security sector pillar has to some extent contributed to this state of affairs. Women have little access to redress in cases of rape or domestic violence. Reports on these abuses are usually handled through customary justice processes, which resolve the conflict between families or clans rather than seeking justice for the victim. This may lead to sentencing that forces a rape victim to marry the rapist.
Bari was, however, impressed with progress made by the government in Mogadishu. He cautioned them to tread carefully so as not to unravel all of the good that has been done. Bari appreciated the cooperation between government authorities and the Human Rights Unit of the UN Political Office for Somalia [official website], but urged that more still needs to be done in order to protect human rights.
Somalia has been accused of many human rights violations over the past year. In February Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (FTG) and African Union forces (AMISOM) for failing to stop the unlawful recruitment of children as soldiers, forced marriage and rape. In August HRW accused [JURIST report] parties in the Somalia conflict of involvement in abuses of citizens and urged them to cease all of such activities immediately. In July Amnesty International released a report alleging that children continue to be victims [JURIST report] of the conflict. The 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials] however, noted progress [JURIST report] for human rights. In 2009 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said [JURIST report] that human rights violations committed during Somalian conflicts may amount to war crimes [press release].