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Human rights council holds interactive dialogues on the situation of human rights in Somalia and in Libya

The Human Rights Council during its midday meeting held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia and an interactive dialogue on the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Libya. The President of the Central African Republic also addressed the Council.  

Faustin-Archange Touadéra, President of the Central African Republic, said that for several decades, the Central African Republic had been facing enormous challenges with massive violations of human rights and international law, with women regularly being targeted for sexual and gender-based crimes while child soldiers were forced to commit crimes. As soon as the constitutional order had been restored, the fight against impunity had been set as a priority, and a special criminal court had been established. The new Constitution adopted in 2017 recognized human rights as the basis for peace and justice in the world. The Government was committed to restoring social cohesion and lasting peace in the country.

Bahame Nyadunga, Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, said Somalia had made significant progress on the human rights situation, although a number of natural and man-made factors continued to have a negative impact, particularly the attacks by Al Shabaab and the fighting between clan militias which caused civilian casualties.

Somalia spoke as the concerned country, saying that it was more than willing to promote and protect human rights but required increased capacity building and technical support to be able to do so. The Human Rights Council and its international partners were urged to step up efforts in that regard.

In the interactive discussion, numerous speakers positively noted the recent elections, which included an increase in the number of female members of Parliament. However, much remained to be done, they said, noting that serious issues remained, including ongoing discrimination against women and girls, sexual and gender-based violence, and abuses against journalists. Several delegations lamented Somalia’s continued retention of the death penalty. It was also said that fighting impunity must be a priority, as it was essential for the future stability of the country.

Participating in the debate were the delegations of European Union, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, France, Australia, Egypt, Germany, Italy, United Nations Children's Fund, United States, United Kingdom, Mozambique, Turkey, Botswana, Ireland, Qatar, and Yemen.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, International Federation of Journalists, Human Rights Watch, International Educational Development Inc., and Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme.

Turning to the situation of human rights in Libya, Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that throughout the year, the human rights component of the United Nations mission in Libya, with the support of the Office, had continued its monitoring and reporting role. Across the country, armed groups were defining the overall human rights situation, which was characterized by hostage-taking and torture, and men, women and children being killed with impunity. Migrants in Libya continued to be held arbitrarily for indefinite periods and in inhumane conditions. All allegations of human rights abuses should be investigated and perpetrators brought to justice.

Matilda Bogner, Head of the Human Rights, Transitional Justice and Rule of Law Division of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, stressed that it was only once the issue of armed groups was addressed that the situation of human rights in Libya could be addressed. A transitional justice road map worked to support interim, transitional justice measures that should be built on further to ensure victims were recognized. Regarding the abuses of migrants, she highlighted the plight of women migrants, who were subjected to systematic rape. The road ahead would need united support to move the process forward.

Libya spoke as the concerned country, saying that the Government was committed to following up on the implementation of the principles contained in the political agreement on human rights providing, notably, remedies and redress for victims. Libya was shouldering an increasing burden socially and economically to protect persons migrating to Europe, an issue which would never be addressed without cooperation with European Union Member States.

In the interactive discussion, speakers voiced concern about human rights violations and abuses, including extrajudicial killings, and grave concern about the hundreds of thousands of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons who remained at risk of indefinite detention in appalling conditions. The uncontrolled proliferation of weapons, organized crime, trafficking and smuggling of migrants presented significant challenges for the country. Speakers also underscored the crucial importance of the international community supplying Libya with appropriate technical assistance and capacity building.

Participating in the debate were the delegations of the European Union, Tunisia on behalf of the African Group, Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group, Qatar, Sudan, Greece, Netherlands, Spain, Egypt, Bahrain, Italy, United States, Tunisia, China, Portugal, United Kingdom, Turkey, Jordan, Hungary, Malta, Ireland, Algeria, Mali, United Arab Emirates and Ukraine.

The following non-governmental organizations also spoke: Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Conseil de jeunesse pluriculturelle, Rencontre Africaine pour la défense des droits de l’homme, and Article 19 – The International Centre against Censorship.

At 4 p.m., the Council will hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi. Time permitting, the Council will subsequently hold an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Central African Republic, Marie Therese Keita Bocoum.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).