The United Nations today expressed concern about the charges filed against five individuals for allegedly fabricating a rape case in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, and called on authorities to ensure they receive a fair trial.
Earlier this month, Somali authorities arrested a journalist for interviewing a woman who claimed she was raped by members of the Somali army in September. The woman was also arrested, as well as the person who introduced them. Two other individuals have also been charged in connection with the case, which is scheduled to be heard by a court tomorrow.
The journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, was charged for offending the honour of a State institution and for filing a false report in spite of never having published his interview, while the woman was charged for offending the honour of a State institution.
The UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) raised concerns over the handling of the pre-trial phase, particularly that the accused have been in prolonged detention and lacked legal counsel until recently.
"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 human rights law," UNPOS said in a statement, reiterating that the presumption of innocence is an essential precondition to the validity of any legal procedure.
"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," the statement said.