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Interactive Dialogue on Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights
September 25, 2013

Stand-Alone High Level Interactive Dialogue on Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights

Statement by Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe
U.S. Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council

September 25, 2013


Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister and distinguished panelists, for your focus and dedication to the cause of human rights in Somalia, especially given the challenging political and security environment in which you must work.   Today we remember the victims of the tragedy that took place at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi; the United States condemns in the strongest terms possible this horrific and senseless terrorist attack by al-Shabaab.   The international community notes and appreciates the difficulties and risks that Somali officials face when they endeavor to improve human rights – be it in the battle to stop sexual violence, the quest for better conditions for IDPs, or the call to hold human rights violators and abusers accountable.

The United States is pleased to be participating in this panel discussion which seeks to illustrate the international community’s partnership with the people of Somalia to improve respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.  Robust consultations, both within Somalia and between Somalis and the international community, remain important.  Only by including a wide range of voices from Somali civil society groups and regional stakeholders, can we ensure that efforts to build peace and democracy are well informed and have stakeholder buy-in.  This holds true for broad political processes such as the adoption of a permanent constitution, 2016 election preparations and building a more effective security sector respectful of human rights. In this regard, we have two questions.

First, we would appreciate details from the panelists about Somalia’s efforts to establish an independent national human rights commission to improve security forces ability to protect civilians, to address issues of child soldiers, to improve conditions for IDP’s in Mogadishu and to adopt a permanent constitution and hold 2016 elections on time.

Second, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to practice journalism.  The United States would appreciate the panelists’ thoughts on how to improve protection of journalists and on the governments efforts to consult with civil society on its draft media law.