First independent human rights office opened in Somalia

Published: March 13, 2015

For the first time, an independent human rights defender office has been established in the horn of African nation.
The new office was opened in the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, Garowe on Thursday.
Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, UN Special representative to Somalia Nicholas Kay, top diplomats and other officers attended the opening ceremony.
In his opening remarks, Puntland President Abdiweli Gaas said that it is a ”huge step forward” and ” great achievement” to form this kind of office in the war-ravaged country.
‘’ This office will help the on-going efforts to tackle human rights violations of any type… it will also have an influence in the current situation of the country,’’ he said.
According to the new head of the office Mohamed Yusuf Ali, the main role of the regional office is to uphold and defend the basic rights guaranteed to the local residents and to implement the international human rights.
Besides that, the office will be responsible for monitoring and investigating human rights practices and providing opinions and suggestions to the Puntland administration.

The establishment of the new office was widely welcomed by the international donors and diplomats attending the ceremony, who encouraged the promotion and protection of human rights in the region and also across the country.
“I have been to the opening of a human rights defender’s office today – a very important institution – the first in Somalia. There is no other institution yet in Somalia for a human rights defender. So, the institutions are being built here. Security is in good shape and they are playing a very constructive role in a federal Somalia. So it’s an important visit to an important place,” UN special envoy said while delivering his speech in the ceremony.
Since the collapse of the central government in 1991, Somalia has been ravaged by human rights violations such as indiscriminate attacks against civilians, displacement of persons, restrictions on humanitarian aid, rape, recruitment and use of child soldiers, unlawful killings and torture by armed groups.
The lack of a developed justice system to deal with these issues has led the violations to continue for many years for more than two decades.
Puntland which lies in the northern part of Somalia has largely escaped the violence in the Southern part, and has had less poor human rights record when compared to the south.
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