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UN expert arrives in Somalia for talks on human rights

UN expert arrives in Somalia for talks on human rights

A United Nations expert arrived today in Somalia for talks with local authorities on the country's human rights situation.

Mr. Ghanim Alnajjar, the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said he was concerned that since his last visit a year ago, there had been an escalation of violence in parts of the country and a deterioration in security, which was having an impact on the human rights of thousands of people.

"It is vital that peace and human rights are respected and protected," he stressed.

During his visit to the region, Mr. Alnajjar is scheduled to meet with diplomats, local authorities, representatives of civil society and international organizations both in Nairobi - where UN operations for Somalia are based - and in different regions of Somalia.

The talks in Somalia, which are scheduled to last through Monday, are expected to focus on the state of the country's judicial system, law enforcement and prison conditions, and the challenges of demobilization and child soldiers.

Mr. Alnajjar and his three-person team are also expected to examine economic and social rights in Somalia, the status of women, human rights education, and difficulties faced by tens of thousands of internally displaced persons.

Meanwhile in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has informed the Security Council that he has appointed three people to serve as a panel of experts to gather information on violations of the UN arms embargo on Somalia and consider practical steps for implementing those sanctions.

The experts he named are Ernst Jan Hogendoorn of the Netherlands, Mohamed Abdoulaye M’Backe of Senegal and Brynjulf Mugaas of Norway.