UN urges death penalty moratorium in Somalia

[JURIST] The United Nations (UN) Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] on Friday urged [press release] Somali authorities to place a moratorium on the death penalty. The UN recommended the moratorium citing its concern over judicial processes after a man was executed nine days after he allegedly murdered an elder in the town of Kismayo. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia [official website] urged Somali authorities to issue a stay of execution. Although the man was allegedly found guilty last week, it is unclear if a judicial tribunal sentenced the accused. The OHCHR stated that the death penalty should be reserved for the highest level of judicial discretion and the accused must have access to legal representation and the appellate processes. According to UN reports, more than 34 people have been executed in Somalia since January 2013. Somalia supported the 2012 UN General Assembly resolution which urged member states to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Reflecting on this, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the OCHR, stated: "The recent executions in Somalia therefore directly contravene Somalia's commitments at the international level."

The UN has encouraged political and judicial reform in Somalia [BBC news profile; JURIST news archive]. Last month the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released [JURIST report] a study detailing asylum trends in industrialized countries in 2013, with Somalia listed as a top ten nation for refugees in 2013. In February the UN Security Council announced [JURIST report] that a 10 year old arms embargo against Somalia will not be fully restored after its expiration in March, allowing the Somalian government to purchase small arms to defend against Islamist forces. Also in February the advocacy organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) [official website] urged [JURIST report] the Somali government to adopt reforms to prevent sexual violence against women and provide support for victims.

 

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