We thank the Independent Expert, Mr Shamsul Bari, for his report!
We meet at a time of remarkable change for Somalia, where the transitional period has been brought to an end with a well-planned process. A new, leaner and competent Parliament has elected a new Speaker and a new President.
A new Provisional Constitution was adopted by the National Constituent Assembly in August, and it is encouraging that Human Rights is given a central position in the new Constitution – where Chapter 2 is about fundamental rights and the duties of the citizen, including general principles of Human Rights.
The sense of optimism is real; that Somalia may finally turn the corner after all these years! The challenges ahead to realize a new Somalia are equally real!
Somalia continues to have serious human rights challenges, and it continues to be a country that requires thorough monitoring and follow-up.
We strongly condemn the attacks on politicians and journalists. Those responsible must be brought to justice!
At the same time, we are pleased that the report expresses the positive development the improved security situation has created in Mogadishu, which has resulted in improvement of the situation of civilians. We believe that more international presence on the ground will improve the situation further, and make it easier to monitor human rights abuses – the continued and strengthened monitoring of Human Rights abuses is important. In this regard we also encourage strengthened presence of staff from UN on the ground in Mogadishu.
The new federal government should continue the work started by the transitional federal government. Of special importance is the care taking of children that has defected from Shebaab after being forcefully recruited. Norway is the donor to the only defector programme in Mogadishu. The Programme will need to expand as more people are gradually defecting from Shebaab. In the first phase of the Programme the defectors consisted of nearly 80 % under the age of 18. It is good that all of them have been taken care of, and some have been reunited with their families.
Somalia is not only the south and Mogadishu. It is a significant step forward that the Somaliland national human rights commission now is operational, and that the regional government passed a law on juveniles in prison, a subject Norway also has raised with the regional government on several occasions.
It is also positive that the democratization process in Puntland is steadily moving forward – a process that has been supported by Norway for many years. The law on Political Associations passed in July this year indicates that Puntland is on the right track, in this respect.
In closing, we encourage IE Bari to continue the engagement under his mandate with all Somali actors. We support the Somali institutions and the Somali people 100 %.