Murder of Somalia human rights activist prompts UN condemnation

Murder of Somalia human rights activist prompts UN condemnation

United Nations human rights and humanitarian officials today deplored the assassination of a leading human rights activist in Somalia, saying such attacks were all too common in the strife-torn Horn of Africa nation.

Isse Abdi Isse, the chairman of KISIMA, a non-governmental organization (NGO), was shot dead yesterday in a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, where he had been participating in a workshop.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour stressed that human rights defenders must be allowed to carry out their work in safety and without fear of retaliation, her spokesperson José Luis Díaz told reporters in Geneva.

Ms. Arbour urged Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into the murder and into all other attacks on rights defenders.

Ghanim Alnajjar, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, issued a statement expressing his deep sadness at the killing and offering his condolences to Mr. Isse’s family, friends and colleagues.

“The killing of Mr. Isse starkly highlights the absence of human rights protection mechanisms for human rights defenders as well as other civilians, and the atmosphere of impunity in which Somalis live,” Mr. Alnajjar said.

“After 16 years of conflict, Somalia is at a critical juncture. I wish to remind all that the work carried out by human rights defenders is crucial to building the foundation for security and a lasting peace.”

UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Eric Laroche described Mr. Isse as a dedicated human rights defender in the country’s Lower Juba region.

“Isse championed human rights causes in the region for many years and his death is undoubtedly a loss to all Somalis who at this time are seeking peace and reconciliation,” Mr. Laroche said.

“Civil society organizations, such as KISIMA, that continue to operate in Somalia under very difficult conditions are increasingly becoming the target of attacks as a result of the work they do.”