UN rights expert calls on new Somali authorities to seize chance to build better future

Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia Shamsul Bari. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

12 September 2012 – Welcoming the election of Somalia’s new president, an independent United Nations human rights expert today called on the incoming Government and the international community to seize the chance to build a better future for the war-torn Horn of Africa nation.

Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was selected as President on Monday, marking the culmination of a series of landmark steps to bring an end to the country’s eight-year political transition. Those other steps, over recent weeks, included the adoption of Somalia’s provisional constitution, the establishment of the New Federal Parliament and the appointment of that body’s Speaker.

“This is a great victory for the long-suffering Somali people,” said the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari.

He added, “I am overjoyed to learn that Somalia’s parliamentarians have in a free, fair, transparent and orderly manner elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to serve as the country’s next President, putting in the meantime an end to a long transition period.”

Mr. Bari called on the forthcoming Government and the international community to “seize the opportunity to build a new Somalia where, among other things, the rule of law and the respect of human rights for all Somalis would be the milestones.”

He underscored that the new authorities can only win over the minds and hearts of the people by changing the way the country has been managed over the years without any rule of law and authority to turn to.

“They have a great momentum to reverse the situation by establishing in the minds of the people that the Government is accountable for their welfare, is aware of their human rights and basic needs and is keen to return human dignity back to them,” he said.

He also called for the development of a plan to provide the people with a clear picture of how the new authorities seek to improve the human rights situation in the country, adding that the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission under the provisional constitution would be “another important step forward.”

Mr. Bari, who undertook his ninth field visit to Kenya and Somalia from 3 to 7 September, called on the international community, including the United Nations, to muster significant financial and technical resources in a collective effort to help build a new Somalia.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes.


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