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UK ups calls on Somalia to adopt Sexual Offenses Law

Storyline:National News

The UK has reiterated its call on Somali Parliament to adopt the Sexual Offenses Bill drafted by the cabinet and drop the controversial one fronted by a section of MPs which has been roundly condemned for seeking to legalise child marriage.

The UK International Ambassador Human Rights, Rita French said Tuesday the move by the Lower House to set aside the government-sponsored bill and opt for the Sexual Intercourse Bill was ‘seriously concerning’.

“The resolution expresses serious concern at the recently tabled ‘Sexual Intercourse Bill’ and calls for Somali lawmakers to instead consider a bill that is compliant with Somalia’s international obligations and commitments on the protection of children, women and girls,” French said.

The ambassador spoke during a session at the UN Human Rights Council which adopted resolution L.52 to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.

The call adds to the increasing voices both locally and internationally urging the Somali parliament to pass the Sexual Offenses Bill especially in light of increasing cases of sexual abuse and rape in various parts of the country.

The Ministry for Women and Human Rights Development tabled the SoB in May 2018 at the Lower House but MPs have failed to debate the Bill and instead recently sneaked in a parallel bill which among others seeks to allow child marriages.

The UK ambassador also took issue with the continuing oppression of journalists in Somalia and called on the government to the culture of impunity.

“The resolution also raises concerns about continuing attacks against the media in Somalia, including journalists, especially in the form of harassment, arbitrary arrest and prolonged detention. It calls on Somalia to promote freedom of expression and end a prevailing culture of impunity.”