Civil society groups, Members of Parliament and youth in Somalia today joined the rest of the world in observing the International Human Rights Day through art, speeches and a panel discussion at the Jazeera hotel in Mogadishu.
Citing this year’s theme “Stand up for someone’s rights today” the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Country Director for Somalia, George Conway, acknowledged the tremendous progress the country has made in addressing human rights situation.
Though acknowledging the efforts made on human rights, The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) senior human rights officer Damian Klauss cautioned the situation remains tenuous, adding that more needs to be done.
“More needs to be done and we can’t wait for government institutions, we can’t wait for commissions to do that. We need individual people, we need civil society to stand up for each other to ensure that we don’t step back further in what is already a very grave human rights situation”, added Klauss.
A Member of Parliament who was involved in drafting the human rights law in the current constitution, Ms Maryam Arif Qasim, blamed the misuse of cultural norms to violate the rights of women.
She said the second chapter of the constitution talks about human rights and “this is highly valued, especially for women because Somali women rights are always ignored”.
The Secretary-General of the National Union of Somalia Journalists (NUSOJ), Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, gave shocking figures of journalists who had been arrested or killed to demonstrate the grave human rights situation in the country.
“In the last five months, more than 30 journalists have been arrested in different parts of Somalia and as far as we know three journalists were killed in Somalia.
There’s intimidation, harassment that we experience all the time as journalists”, the NUSOJ boss said adding that the union stands to defend the rights of journalists.
The chairperson of the Somali Youth Cluster (SYC), Ms Muna Hassan Mohamed, asked the youth in Somalia to use this year’s theme to stand up for the rights of their fellow youth.
“Today is an important day. The message we’re sending is for the youth in Somalia to stand up for the rights of others. The youth have to stand up for their fellow youth. The general message is for the youth to protect the rights of fellow youths since many of their rights have been violated”, the SYC chairperson added.
Speaking on behalf of the people with disabilities in Somalia, Abdullahi Hassan observed that at least 15 percent of the population was made up of people with disabilities but they had been neglected in every sphere of the society.
Hassan pleaded with the Somali society and the international community to consider those with disabilities by giving them opportunities to education and employment.
The International Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.