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Protect Somali justice, U.N. says

April 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 17 (UPI) -- Judicial leaders in Somalia need better protection if the country is expected to consolidate recent gains, a rights expert advising the United Nations said.

More than a dozen civilians, judges, court personnel and lawyers died when militants attacked a regional courthouse in Mogadishu last weekend. Al-Shabaab, a Somali terrorist group aligned with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bangladeshi rights expert Shamsul Bari, a U.N. adviser, called on the government and international community to do more to build a foundation under Somalia's recent gains.

"In order to ensure the rule of law and the fight against impunity, the judicial personnel have to be protected and allowed to do their job in a war-torn country like Somalia," he said in a statement.

Some of al-Shabaab's turf was recaptured last year as the Somali government made advancements in extending its authority beyond Mogadishu for the first time in years.

"Last Sunday was another terribly sad day for a country that has already suffered so much for so long," he said.

Human Rights Watch said the weekend attack was a violation of international laws meant to protect civilians. Al-Shabaab targeted a humanitarian aid convoy as well.

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