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Somali gov't refutes damming Human Rights Watch report


09:05, August 17, 2011

MOGADISHU, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Somali government on Tuesday strongly refuted a damming report by the Human Rights Watch organization alleging that the government has failed to provide basic security and human rights protections to its citizens as its forces battle with Islamist rebels.

Human Rights Watch also accused the rebel al Shabaab group which is fighting the Somali government forces of committing serious rights violations against civilian populations in areas under their control in the south of the country.

"It is with great regret that we receive these allegations from Human Rights Watch especially without given us the opportunity to respond before the publication," the Somali government said. "We refute these allegations and the government is willing to meet with Human Rights Watch officials to discuss their concerns," Abdirahman Omar Osman, the Somali government spokesman, said in a statement.

Human Rights Watch report, entitled "You Don't Know Who To Blame" issued on Monday alleged that both the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Islamist group of Al Shabaab have largely failed to provide basic security and human rights protections and have committed serious rights violations.

"I would stress, however, that the TFG takes its responsibilities to the protection of its civilians and we take extreme cautions under extreme difficult circumstances when combating operations to bring peace and stability where we believe there are civilians," the government spokesman said.

"Our soldiers undertake exceptional work under extremely dangerous and difficult conditions. We are very proud of them and the high standards they endeavor to maintain. The Somali people, especially those in Mogadishu, know that their soldiers work hard for them and never knowingly place them in danger," he added.

However, the Somali government official accused the Islamist rebel group of Al Shabaab of being "responsible for most of human rights violations that happen in Somalia".

The government statement said that people overwhelmingly support and gave confidence to the Somali government and that most of Internally Displaced People who fled from the severe drought and famine in south of the country have moved to government controlled areas.

The Somali government said that its forces have had training and fully complied with international humanitarian and human rights law.

It said it took very seriously "all allegations of human rights and humanitarian law violations", promising that it will investigate the reports content so that all perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.

"We encourage human rights activists to carry out their work and to report credible findings. We work very closely with all aid agencies and we help them to carry-out their duties by providing security escorts," said the spokesman, noting that Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed earlier in the week announced the creation of a special force to protect convoys delivering aid to people affected by drought and famine in order to secure the convoys, to protect food aid, and to protect the camps when food is distributed.

The Somali government said it has "successfully fulfilled its international obligation" by submitting a national report on the situation of the human rights situation in the country to the 11th session of the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on May 3, 2011.

The Somali government reiterated its commitment to making human rights "the foundation of the transition to a new Somalia" and reaffirmed what it termed as its unwavering commitment to the international humanitarian law.


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