Friday, November 27, 2009

UN Human Rights Expert Calls for End to Stonings in Somalia

An independent United Nations human rights expert condemned the series of stonings that have been taking place in Somalia.  He called for an urgent end to such "cruel, inhuman and degrading" practices.


Shamsul Bari said the public stonings, floggings, and summary executions carried out by Islamist armed groups in central and southern Somalia highlight the "deteriorating" human rights situation in the strife-torn nation, where Government forces have been battling Al Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam opposition groups for many months.


Mr. Bari, the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia, noted that under Al Shabaab's interpretation of Sharia law, anyone who has ever been married – even a divorcee – and has an affair is liable to be found guilty of adultery and punished by stoning.


According to reports from a village near the town of Wajid, 400 kilometres north-west of the capital, Mogadishu, a 20-year-old divorcee accused of committing adultery was stoned to death by Islamists in front of a crowd of 200 people on 18 November.


Earlier this month, a man was stoned to death for rape in the port town of Merka, south of Mogadishu, and in October two men are reported to have been executed after being accused of spying. Similar executions took place earlier in the year.


"I strongly condemn these recent executions by stoning in Al Shabaab-controlled areas of Somalia," Mr. Bari stated in a news release.


He called on all parties to immediately end such cruel, inhuman and degrading practices, including stoning, amputations, floggings, and other unlawful acts of torture and murder.


In addition, he urged all Islamist groups, including Al Shabaab and other armed groups, and religious leaders to abide by their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian laws.


He also urged the international community to engage with Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to identify priorities in terms of security, humanitarian and human rights, and to strengthen the Government's capacity to investigate rights abuses and hold the perpetrators accountable.


Mr. Bari reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council in an independent and unpaid capacity.

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