After visiting Somalia, UN envoy condemns attacks on human rights defenders, media

1 September 2005

The United Nations expert on human rights in Somalia today welcomed the rise of civil society in promoting and protecting human rights in the Horn of Africa country and called on political, business and religious leaders to make sure that attacks on human rights defenders and the media stop.

Back in Nairobi, Kenya, at the end of his 11-day mission, Ghanim Alnajjar stressed yet again his strong condemnation of the murders of human rights defender Abdulkadir Yahya Ali and journalists Duniya Muhaydin Nur of HornAfrik and Kate Peyton of the BBC, the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) said.

In Jowhar and Hargeisa in Somaliland, Garowe in Puntland, and in Nairobi, Mr. Alnajjar met with local Somali authorities, civil society organizations, journalists and representatives of UN agencies and donor countries. He continued his efforts to secure the release of prisoners of war in Puntland and Somaliland, captured as a result of the Sool/Sanag conflict. After talks with top officials on both sides, he said he was hopeful that the problems would be speedily resolved.

He applauded the initiative and persistence of countless Somali women who have been showing leadership in a wide variety of fields, such as education, economic development and, especially, the demobilization of militia members in Mogadishu, UNCHR said.

Mr. Anajjar, who has campaigned for the humane treatment of prisoners for years, also welcomed the decision of the Somaliland authorities to allocate land on the outskirts of Hargeisa for a new prison, allowing for the demolition of Hargeisa Central Prison, built in 1942 to hold 150 prisoners and now housing nearly 700.

It was his fifth annual fact-finding visit to the region since being appointed Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in June 2001, UNCHR said.


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