UN officials welcome overturning of conviction of Somali woman

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Zainab Hawa Bangura

United Nations officials have welcomed a court decision in Somalia to overturn the conviction of an alleged rape victim accused of maligning the reputation of the state.

The woman and a journalist who interviewed her about the claim that she was raped by soldiers were convicted and sentenced last month.

On March 3 the Appeals Court in Mogadishu overturned the conviction of the woman but upheld that of the journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, whose sentence was reduced from one year to six months.

While welcoming the ruling to overturn the conviction of the woman, the Secretary-General says he regrets, however, that the sentence against the journalist while shortened, has been upheld.

He urges the Government of Somalia to ensure that allegations of sexual violence are investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

The Somali Court's ruling was also welcomed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura.

She says the arrest of the alleged victim sent a message to survivors of rape everywhere that they should be silent in the face of sexual violence.

Ms. Bangura adds that the overturned verdict and release of the woman who had the courage to come forward, reflects the fact that victims of sexual violence should not be criminalized for reporting this crime.

However, she too is concerned that the journalist who interviewed the rape victim was not released.

She says journalists should not be censored or threatened with prosecution for reporting on the issue of rape and sexual violence.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’21″

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