Displaced people in Somalia face abuse, rape: HRW

[JURIST] Displaced people in Somalia face the risk of physical abuse and rape, according to a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text, PDF; press release] released Wednesday. HRW noted that the threat of beatings and rape from internal security forces was significant and called for the practices to end. According to HRW, "Instead of finding a safe haven from fighting and famine, many displaced Somalis who came to Mogadishu have found hostility and abuse." The group went on to say, "Rape and sexual abuse of displaced women and girls, including by government soldiers and militia members, has been an enormous problem in the unprotected environment of the camps." HRW advanced several recommendations to curtail the practices and improve conditions, including: strengthening law enforcement and improve accountability; "facilitat[ing] unhindered access by humanitarian agencies to civilians at risk;" and engaging with the UN to expand human rights compliance.

Human rights violations of abuse and rape have been a continued concern in Somalia. Earlier this month, a Somali appeals court judge dropped charges [JURIST report] against a woman who alleged she had been raped by Somali government security forces and was consequently charged with defamation against the government. That ruling followed the recommendation [JURIST report] of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] to reopen the case. In February, Somalia's new prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid, said that the Somali authorities would become more involved in protecting rape victims [JURIST report].

 

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