Exploring Human Rights in Somalia: A Look at Progress and Challenges as Assessed by UN Expert

Ms. Isha Dyfan, the United Nations’ Expert on Human Rights in Somalia, recently wrapped up her five-day visit to the country, marking her third official trip since being appointed by the Human Rights Council in May 2020.

Throughout her stay, Dyfan met with Somali government officials, UN representatives, and various international partners to evaluate the current human rights landscape in Somalia.

At a press conference in Mogadishu, Ms. Dyfan highlighted the progress made by the government since her last visit in November 2023, while also addressing the challenges faced in upholding and protecting human rights in the country.

Discussions centered around the constitutional review, legislative developments, civilian protection during the ATMIS drawdown, as well as violations of women and children’s rights. Additionally, the economic, social, and humanitarian situation, along with advancements on key indicators from prior reports, were brought into focus.

Dyfan praised the Somali government for the successful passage of amendments to the provisional constitution by the federal parliament but expressed concerns over the lack of consensus among political stakeholders regarding these changes.

Urging a dialogue for consensus-building, Dyfan emphasized the importance of safeguarding democratic principles, rule of law, and human rights to move the country forward positively.

Moreover, she lauded specific provisions in the revised constitution, such as those concerning the age of majority and the ban on female genital mutilation, while stressing the need to align future amendments with international obligations and human rights standards.

The Independent Expert urged parliamentary inclusion of a political agreement on women’s quota and mechanisms for women’s rights protection. Mentioning recent initiatives for women’s representation in decision-making, she pushed for the enactment of crucial legislation on rape, juvenile justice, national disability, child rights, and more.

Dyfan strongly condemned ongoing al-Shabab attacks and underscored the nation’s obligation to safeguard civilians amid escalating violence. She also discussed the persistent challenge of sexual and gender-based violence, advocating for stronger investigative and prosecutorial capacities.

In addition, she emphasized the plight of vulnerable communities, particularly children affected by conflicts and climate change, stressing the gravity of their situation and the need for protective measures.

Dyfan vowed to monitor developments concerning minority groups, persons with disabilities, and the National Disability Bill, despite facing hurdles in their protection.

Recognizing the limitations on civic freedoms in Somalia, including harassment and imprisonment of journalists, Dyfan called for an inclusive civic space essential for good governance and rule of law.

In closing, she appealed for international support to bolster Somalia’s humanitarian response, enhance resilience against disasters, address protection needs of women and girls, and invest in health and education sectors to promote economic and social rights for lasting peace and security.

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