1 February 2013

Somalia: Unpos - Statement On Opening of Journalist Trial

Mogadishu — The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) notes that charges have been filed against five individuals in the case opened by the Somali National Police investigating the publication in the media of an allegedly fabricated report on sexual violence in Mogadishu.

A journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, was charged under Article 269 of the Somali penal code for offending the honour of a state institution and for filing a false report.

A woman who reported having been the victim of a rape has also been charged with false reporting and for offending the honour of a state institution.

Three other individuals have also been charged in connection with the case, which is scheduled to be heard by a court in Mogadishu tomorrow, 2 February 2013.

UNPOS has raised concerns that the handling of the pre-trial phase, in particular that the prolonged detention and the (now remedied) lack of access to legal counsel could negatively impact on the conduct of the judicial proceeding.

The mission has received firm assurances from the Government of Somalia that the trial of the five defendants will be conducted with full respect to both national jurisprudence and international humanrights law.

UNPOS reiterates that the presumption of innocence is an essential precondition to the validity of any legal procedure and looks forward to hearing the full facts on 2 February. The mission will monitor the process throughout and trusts that the defendants will  receive a fair trial, in line with the Government of Somalia's stated commitment to ensure due process and the fair administration of justice.

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