Somali government urged to end media harassment and intimidation

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Human Rights Council. Photo by Jean-Marc FerrŽ

The Somali government has been censured for clamping down on media freedom and detaining journalists on trumped-up charges.

A United Nations human rights expert says the government has in the recent past closed down several radio stations and detained at least three journalists on charges of treason after they reported on disarmament operations in Mogadishu.

Bahame Nyanduga who serves as the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia said the harassment of journalists in Somalia was an affront to the enjoyment freedom of expression and opinion.

In a report to the UN Human Rights Council, Mr Nyanduga also called for through investigations into claims of sexual harassment against women by government troops and African Union Peacekeepers.

"The conflict in Somalia has also displaced the civilian population, either as refugees or as IDPs, thereby exposing them to multiple violations of human rights. I am particularly disturbed by the continuing reports of sexual violence against women and girls, and in particular those from minority groups. Allegations that the perpetrators of sexual violence as well as sexual abuse and exploitation include members of the Somalia National Army and some elements from AMISOM are worrisome. I call upon AMISOM to take the necessary measures to investigate and punish the alleged perpetrators. In the same vein, I also urge the Federal Government of Somalia to investigate reports of sexual violence committed by members of the Somali National Army and bring the perpetrators to account. Impunity for sexual and gender based violence or for any human rights violations should not be tolerated in Somalia."

He also expressed concern that adhoc military courts were usurping the role of civilian courts and condemning suspected militants to death without a fair hearing.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

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