Somalia: UN rights office calls for moratorium after ‘hasty’ execution of alleged murderer

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. UN Photo

4 April 2014 – The United Nations human rights office today voiced its concern at the “hasty” judicial process in the Somali town of Kismayo that led to the execution of man nine days after he allegedly murdered an elder, and called on authorities to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.

According to reports, more than 34 people have been executed in Somalia since January 2013. In the most recent case, a man in Kismayo was executed yesterday after he was accused of killing an elder on 24 March.

“The man was found guilty last week – it is not clear by whom exactly, but possibly not even by a court,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“He was executed by firing squad in public on 3 April,” Mr. Colville added during a news conference in Geneva.

He noted that the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) had urged a stay of execution, including at the highest levels within the regional Interim Jubba Administration which appears to have been heavily involved in the sentencing and execution.

“Under international law, the death penalty should only be applied after the most rigorous judicial process,” stated Mr. Colville.

“OHCHR is concerned that the hasty judicial process in Kismayo – just nine days between the murder and the execution – meant that the suspect did not enjoy full fair trial guarantees, including the right to legal representation the right to appeal. Someone sentenced to death should also have the right to seek pardon or commutation of the sentence.”

The Office called on the Somali authorities to place a moratorium on the death penalty, recalling that the country was one of the supporters of the 2012 General Assembly resolution urging Member States to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

“The recent executions in Somalia therefore directly contravene Somalia’s commitments at the international level,” Mr. Colville said.


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