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US and UN Concerned Over Somalia Rape Case

The United States and the United Nations are expressing concern about charges filed in Somalia against a woman who has alleged that she was raped by government forces.

Somalia's government accuses the woman of falsely reporting the rape and insulting the country's honor in an attempt to make money. It has also accused a journalist of publishing false reports on the rape as well as the victims's husband, who is accused of encouraging his wife to make up the story.

The 27-year-old woman says she was raped by government soldiers while living in a displaced person's camp in the capital, Mogadishu.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman urged the Somali government to uphold its own constitution and respect the rights of due process and freedom of the press.



"We would simply say the world is watching and this is a litmus test of the future Somalia."



The United Nations Political Office for Somalia said Friday it has raised concerns about the handling of the pretrial phase of the case, particularly the prolonged detention of those involved.

Rights groups say the journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur, has been in police custody since his arrest January 10.

A hearing in the case is to take place Saturday in Mogadishu.



UNPOS says it has received "firm assurances" from the government that the trial will be conducted with "full respect for both national jurisprudence and international human rights law."

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have also condemned the handling of the case, and said it makes it more difficult for women to report sexual violence. They have also called for the immediate release of the journalist Abdinur.

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