Tuesday, June 17, 2003

SOMALIA: Amnesty calls for leaders who will protect human rights
NAIROBI, 17 JUNE 2003 (IRIN) - The London-based rights group Amnesty International has called on delegates attending Somali peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to choose leaders who will protect the human rights of all Somalis.

The talks, sponsored by the regional Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), have been going on since October of last year, and bring together over 360 delegates, representing Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG), armed factions and civil society groups.

In a statement issued on Friday, Amnesty said that if differences on an interim charter were resolved, the delegates were likely to choose interim members of parliament, who would in turn elect an interim president. For that reason, it said, the delegates should choose leaders who "will be fully committed to protecting human rights and the rule of law during the difficult task of reconstructing the disintegrated Somali state".

The statement said it would be unacceptable for those who had committed human rights violations "to be given blanket impunity or amnesty and to be part of a new government.

"Parliamentary and presidential candidates should be asked to explain their human rights record and to pledge their personal commitment to protecting human rights and the rule of law in the future," Amnesty said. "There should be a leadership code of ethics and acceptance of a broad human-rights agenda to which leaders could be held accountable."

Amnesty called for the setting up for an independent human rights commission "to prevent any return to the abuses of the past". It also called on the United Nations and the international community to provide the new interim government and civil society with assistance in the area of human rights during the process of reconstruction.


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