Interactive Dialogue with Independent Expert on Somalia
Statement by the United States of America
Human Rights Council Session 30, Geneva
September 30, 2015
Delivered by Eric Richardson
Thank you, Mr. President. We express our appreciation to the Independent Expert for his work. Secretary Kerry’s historic visit to Mogadishu earlier this year, as well as the recent commencement of the U.S. Mission to Somalia, underscore the United States’ commitment to supporting Somalia’s transition toward peace, prosperity, and democracy.
We look forward to the government holding elections in 2016 on schedule. During the July High Level Partnership Forum, Somali leaders introduced the guiding principles for the electoral process. We welcome this development and look forward to the outcome of the consultative forum.
Following the Independent Expert’s trip to Somalia, he reported that journalists in Somalia are often harassed, arrested, and censored, and media organizations are frequently shut down. The United States shares his concern that such incidents have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. We emphasize the importance of respect for freedom of expression, including for journalists, as Somalia prepares for the 2016 elections.
The United States remains deeply concerned by attacks against civilians in Somalia. We reiterate our deepest condolences to the family of Ambassador Bari-Bari, one of many people killed in terrorist attacks in Somalia this year.
We acknowledge Somalia’s continued progress on eliminating the use and recruitment of child soldiers, though more needs to be done to fully implement its action plan with the UN.
We continue to emphasize that all security forces in Somalia, including the Somali National Army, the police, and African Union Mission in Somalia troops, must fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law, as applicable, to be effective. Strengthening accountability mechanisms for security force violations against civilians, including the unlawful killing, sexual exploitation, and abuse of civilians, is essential to improving civilian protection. These accountability mechanisms must fully respect the rights of accused persons.
Somalia’s judicial system is in urgent need of development and reform so that it can protect and respect human rights. Impunity in Somalia must no longer be the norm. At the same time, defendants must be allowed legal representation of their choosing with all the fair trial guarantees required by international law, as well as the right to appeal any conviction and sentence to a higher tribunal. Thank you, Mr. President.
What is your view of the steps Somalia needs to take to ensure the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections are as free, fair, and participatory as possible? What concrete steps can the international community take to help strengthen accountability mechanisms in Somalia?