The Somali government should re-open the cases of a woman who claimed she was raped by government security forces and a journalist who interviewed her, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday (February 6th).
On Tuesday, a Somali court in Mogadishu sentenced journalist Abdiasis Abdinuur Ibrahim and the woman Lul Ali Osman, an internally displaced person living in the Burdhubo camp, to one year in prison for offending state institutions.
Pillay said the court's decision was a setback in the fight against sexual violence in Somalia.
"Sexual abuse in the camps for displaced people in Somalia is a real issue, and any effort to expose, denounce and deter those crimes should be supported," she said. "It is deeply disturbing that a woman alleging rape can be penalised for reporting such a crime and a journalist jailed for investigating it."
"I raised this case 10 days ago directly with the government of Somalia," Pillay said, according to a UN press release. "I am now calling on the government to urgently re-open this case and launch a full inquiry to clearly establish what happened and, if any allegations of abuses against the victim and the journalist are confirmed, to hold those responsible accountable."
Pillay said the government's decision to detain the journalist for one year could affect freedom of expression in Somalia. "Sexual violence is a perfectly valid subject for any journalist to investigate," she said. "No journalist should be arrested and sentenced by a court to one year in jail for doing his work."