Somalia: never reviewed despite ratifying the ICCPR in 1990

Published on 16 Jul 2023, 09:12 PM

The Human Rights Committee postponed the review of Somalia to a later date

Stuart Price - AU-UN IST

The Human Rights Committee was supposed to review Somalia for the first time on 6 and 7 July 2023. Unfortunately, the State requested to postpone the review due to the security situation in the country, a few hours before the session started. The timing of the request at such short notice makes one wonder about Somalia’s willingness to sincerely cooperate with the Committee. Regrettably, the Committee accepted the request. A new date has not been confirmed, but the review will most likely only take place in 2024.

The Centre, together with Somali civil society, deeply regrets the fact that the review was postponed.

Somalia ratified the ICCPR in 1990, but never submitted its initial report, due in 1991. When the Committee introduced the simplified reporting procedure, it adopted Somalia’s List of Issues Prior to Reporting in May 2020. Finally in October 2020, 30 years after the due date, the State submitted its initial State report. If all goes well, Somalia will be reviewed 34 years after ratifying the Covenant.

Ongoing challenges

Somalia is involved in a longlasting conflict, and struggles to take control over Al-Shabaab, a militant group that often targets civilians and government buildings. Additionally, Somalia is going through a humanitarian crisis, floods and droughts.

Gender-based violence remains prevalent in the country, and is mostly unreported. About 98% of women undergo Female Genital Mutilation, and the numbers are rising. All the legislation on the protection of women are draft bills, and are not in force yet. The sexual offenses bill was rejected by parliament, other bills are under review by the traditional and religious leaders, the Maputo Protocol and CEDAW are not ratified by Somalia.

No access for civil society

The Centre planned to support Somali civil society to participate in the briefings and attend the review. However, the Swiss embassy in Nairobi explained that Switzerland does not recognize ordinary Somali passports. This means that it is de facto impossible for Somali civil society to play their role in UN mechanisms. That seems in complete contradiction with Switzerland’s role as host of the UN.

As an alternative, the Centre organized online meetings with the members of the Human Rights Committee, the desk officer of Somalia within OHCHR, the mandates of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Working Group on Violence against Women, and the Independent Expert on the Human Rights situation in Somalia. The visa issue was flagged, as well as the lack of review by the Human Rights Committee for over 30 years.

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