Somalia stumbles out of human rights gate

NAIROBI, Kenya, June 12 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch said Wednesday a draft Somali law creating a human rights commission is too weak to work effectively and called on Parliament to revise it.

Deputy Director of African research Leslie Lefkow said the commission could play a valuable role in Somali efforts to erase a long record of human rights abuses.


"But a weak law will cripple the commission from the start and parliament should make sure that doesn't happen," she said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch said the draft measure contains many positive elements but lacks a broad mandate on access to witnesses and could lack the power to ensure any recommendations will be carried out.

Somalia last year formed a functioning central government in Mogadishu for the first time since the 1990s. It has since struggled with political rivalries and lingering threats from al-Shabaab, a terrorist group tied to al-Qaida.

"Somalia's international partners are eager to support government institutions, but they should make clear that their support for a new human rights commission depends on the authorities' commitment to an active and empowered body," Lefkow said from Nairobi.


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