A Somali court’s conviction of a woman who alleged rape by security forces, and a journalist, is a serious setback for ending sexual violence and promoting press freedom under Somalia’s new government. The US, along with other key donors to Somalia, including the United Kingdom, Japan and European Union should publicly call for the case against the defendants to be dropped and that they be released immediately. We, the signed below, join human rights organizations Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Sister Somalia/ Elman Peace and Human Rights Center, and other Somali groups in condemning this act designed to silence Somali women and dialogue on ending sexual violence.
“This case has been flawed by serious violations of due process from the start,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The long pre-trial detention without charge, official smears of the defendants in the media, and the abusive police efforts to discredit and intimidate a woman point to a government more concerned with deflecting criticism than protecting ordinary citizens.”
Netsanet Belay, Africa programme director at Amnesty International, said, “The government should immediately quash the case and order the immediate release of the journalist from prison.”
We call on Secretary of State John Kerry to move swiftly and publicly to send an unambiguous message the US and other donor nations will not support a Somalia that prosecutes alleged rape victims.