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UN Expert Calls For Release Of Abducted Children In Somalia

UN Expert Calls For Release Of Abducted Children In Somalia

A United Nations human rights expert on Friday called for the immediate release of all children kidnapped or recruited as fighters in armed conflict in Somalia.

Bahame Tom Nyanduga, the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, also condemned recent terrorist attacks in the country and urged action to stop use of children in armed conflict.

“The abduction of children by the al-Shabab group and their recruitment and use by government security forces in the armed conflict constitute a grave violation of the children’s rights,” Nyanduga said in a statement issued in Mogadishu at the end of a six-day mission to assess the human rights situation in the country.

He however lauded Somali government for measures taken so far to rehabilitate children captured in combat, and for recognizing that such children were victims.

The rights expert urged the authorities to act now to stop children being used in the fighting, calling on the government to build rehabilitation centres to address the plight of children associated with al-Shabab.

He also wanted to see a strengthening of the justice sector, in particular the police, judiciary, related ministries and other institutions crucial for underpinning security sector reforms.

The UN rights expert welcomed action by both the government and the international community to reduce loss of life from famine, but made clear that more had to be done urgently to help thousands of people forced to leave their homes because of flooding.

“The government must commit itself to addressing this recurring problem by adopting a range of durable solutions, including the relocation of victims to higher ground,” the expert said.

He lauded the government for some human rights improvements, including ending the practice of executing in public those convicted of terrorism-related offences, but made clear there was still much more to be done to improve human rights generally in Somalia.

“There has been a considerable improvement in the right to freedom of expression and opinion compared to the previous year, but I am still receiving reports of harassment, intimidation, arrest and detention without trial of journalists. I call on the government to ensure respect for the right of freedom of expression and opinion, and a free media,” the expert said.