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OHCHR on Central African Republic, Somalia and Tunisia

16 April 2013

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly

Central African Republic

We are alarmed at continuing reports of widespread human rights violations in the Central African Republic and called for the urgent restoration of the rule of law in the country.

More than 20 people are reported to have been killed in Bangui over the weekend, including four people attending a Sunday service in a church that was struck by a shell.

Although the security conditions make it difficult to investigate reports, we know that since the SELEKA coalition forces launched their offensive last December there has been a wide range of alleged violations including targeted killings, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture, recruitment of children, rapes, disappearances and kidnappings in Bangui and as well as in other parts of the country.

Various different groups have also been accused of extortion and of looting private and public property, including health care facilities and humanitarian offices, and warehouses.

Some 37,000 people have already fled the country to escape the violence, with tens of thousands more displaced internally.

The current state of lawlessness must not be allowed to continue. The rule of law must be restored and perpetrators of abuses held accountable. Those carrying out serious crimes, and especially their leaders, should bear in mind that they may be held individually criminally responsible.

We urge the newly established National Transitional Council to move quickly to restore the authority of the State and to take all necessary measures to ensure that civilians are protected.

Somalia

We condemn the attacks which took place on April 14 targeting an aid convoy close to the airport and the Banadir Regional Court in Mogadishu, killing over 50 civilians, including 35 persons who were attending the court.

Three lawyers, including two prominent human rights defenders, were killed in the attack. Mohamed Mohamud Afrah, Head of the Somali Lawyers Association and Abdikarin Hassan Gorod provided legal assistance to countless Somalis over the past five years, including legal advice to Abdiasis Abdinur Ibrahim, the Somali journalist recently arrested along with an alleged rape survivor.

These attacks, for which the Al Shabaab have claimed responsibility, potentially seriously damage recent efforts to strengthen the administration of justice in Somalia, including the organization earlier this month of a national conference on justice by the Government of Somalia.

We condemn the prevailing climate of insecurity and violence for justice personnel and ordinary Somali citizens seeking justice in their country. It is imperative that this terrorist attack does not succeed in intimidating and dismantling the administration of justice, which is essential to improve law and order, and fight impunity – key elements in efforts to improve peace and security in Somalia.

Tunisia

We are concerned that the Tunisian TV director Mr. Sami El-Fehri continues to be detained despite repeated decisions by the Tunisian Court of Cassation, the highest court in the country, that his detention is unlawful.

Most recently, the Court of Cassation on 5 April unequivocally quashed the decision of the Accusation Chamber of 3 January to maintain Mr. El-Fehri in custody. Yet, he remains in prison.

We urge the Tunisian authorities to ensure, in line with the principle of separation of powers, that the decision of the Court of Cassation be respected and implemented. There is consistent domestic jurisprudence which supports the immediate release of Mr. El Fehri.

ENDS

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