News / Africa

UN Calls for Human Rights Probe in Somalia

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Onyiego

As fighting intensifies between the fragile Somali government and Islamist rebels, civilians are increasingly being caught in the crossfire.  The United Nations is calling for Somali authorities and African Union troops to investigate human-rights violations and punish those responsible, who have acted up to now with impunity, in the Horn of African nation.

U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang is calling for the international community to combat the "culture of impunity" that has fueled more than two decades of war in Somalia.  Kang's comments followed an official two-day tour of the semi-autonomous Puntland region, in the northeast, and the self-declared state of Somaliland in northwestern Somalia.

Speaking late Wednesday in Nairobi, Kang told reporters that documenting human rights-abuses in the war-torn country would be critical to building a lasting peace.

"Even as conflict continues in some areas, we must begin the work of systematically documenting the most serious abuses throughout the years of conflict with the vision of one day holding perpetrators to account," said Kang.  "Addressing the continuing cycle of impunity and violence should be a cornerstone in the foundation of building peace in Somalia.  And it should be a deterrent  to would-be violators that they will be held to account."

The U.N.-backed Somalia government has been struggling to maintain control of parts of the capital, Mogadishu while battling Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab.  Just more than three weeks ago, the al Qaida-linked group launched an offensive to conquer more territory in the city.  The United Nations estimates more than 230 people were killed and another 23,000 were driven from their homes in the first two weeks of fighting.   

Al-Shabab forces often fire mortars at government controlled areas of the city, with government troops responding in kind.  Government forces, backed by 7,200 African Union troops, recently have been accused of indiscriminately killing civilians while firing on neighborhoods that harbor rebel forces.  

During her trip, Kang also visited refugee camps, where she said residents were suffering from neglect and mismanagement.  Kang urged the international community and the Somali authorities to "step up" their efforts.

"In my visit to the IDP camp I had a clear sense that much more needs to be done. They were not getting the sufficient levels of food assistance, health assistance, educational assistance that international norms require.  This is some of the worst situations that we find internally displaced persons in.  So, clearly, there is need for more support, more systematic support," said Kang.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since dictator Mohammed Siad Barre was removed from power in 1991.  Government forces have been battling al-Shabab since 2007, but have lost control of much of southern Somalia, clinging to only parts of the capital.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs