The Somali government has been urged to take steps to ensure future elections are not marred by the human rights violations, UN reports said Monday.
The report by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the UN Human Rights Office warned the government against the repeat of the abuses committed during the 2016-2017 electoral process.
The report notes that the 2016-2017 electoral process took place at a time when Somalia had no political parties.
It has urged Somalia to build on the significant gains made in its peace process in the last five years.
U.N. said human rights violations and abuses were carried out by State security forces, including the police and intelligence agencies, and non-State actors, among them Al Shabaab, before, during and after parliamentary and presidential elections held in late 2016 and early 2017.
“This violence impeded the free flow of information, undermining the ability of citizens to benefit from and contribute to democratic processes by means of informed decisions on a wide range of issues,” the report says.
Killing of elders
According to the report, journalists, human rights defenders, and political leaders were subjected to attacks, intimidation and other forms of harassment and interference.
U.N. said fifteen people including elders and electoral college delegates were killed in the course of the election
“Thirteen clan elders and two electoral delegates were killed between August 2016 and the presidential election held on 8 February 2017,” the reported stated.
According to the report, the violent attacks on people involved in the election process continued after the poll, with the killing of 29 clan elders and electoral delegates, including three women.
“To date, only two of the 44 documented killings have been investigated and prosecuted,” U.N. said.
Human right violations during the poll
The report also includes a section on the 2017 presidential election in Somaliland on 13 November 2017, where a one person, one vote system was applied.
The report details election-related human rights violations in Somaliland, including excessive use of force by security forces against demonstrators, which caused three deaths and injured 17.
“Insecurity, weak justice institutions, and an insufficient human rights protection system contributed to the lack of accountability for human rights violations throughout Somalia,” the report says.
It calls for prompt, independent and impartial investigations into human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of the electoral process.
The report also urges the Somali Government to ensure that the national electoral legislation is enacted before the 2020 elections and that it meets applicable international human rights standards.
There should also be vetting of the human rights records of candidates. During the 2016-2017 electoral process, candidates included former warlords and a military commander accused of war crimes.
“As Somalia continues the arduous task of building institutions and constructing peace, respect for human rights must be at the core of this enterprise,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “This includes guaranteeing all public freedoms, such as the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and of peaceful assembly and association. It is essential that victims’ rights to remedy and reparation are respected.”