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Rights-Based Approach to Review of Constitutional Issues in Somalia

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The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) commends the Federal Government of Somalia for having welcomed the rights-based approach to the determination and review of constitutional issues in Somalia. This will ensure that the new constitution guarantees human rights and civil liberties such as freedom of expression, assembly, and association, including the right to join and form independent unions.

At the 3-day Constitutional Conference on Human Rights held in Mogadishu from 25 to 27 November 2018, NUSOJ made a strong case and presented detailed proposals to guarantee constitutional protection for human and labour rights and civil liberties as core foundations for democracy, good governance, peace and prosperity in Somalia.

The conference was co-organised by the Federal Ministries of Constitutional Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Human Rights Development of Somalia.

Speaking at the Constitutional Conference on Human Rights, NUSOJ Secretary General, Omar Faruk Osman, said: “Somalia is a beautiful nation with a regrettably long and reprehensible history of gross human rights violations abetted by a political culture of impunity. The country cannot prosper and empower its people if this history and culture of impunity continue. The people of Somalia through their representatives should take concrete and decisive measures to ensure the inclusion of core values of human rights, civil liberties and democratic principles into the Somali constitution. The government must fulfill its international legal obligations and commitments relating to economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights as spelled out in various international charters and treaties to which Somalia is party,”.

The union welcomes the government’s participatory approach to the ongoing constitutional review process. The process, being mindful of the causes of past human rights violations and of the specific grievances suffered by members of certain groups, particularly those of journalists and trade unions, must ensure that these and any other such groups are meaningfully consulted.

“By opening up more spaces for concerned Civil Society in the constitutional review process and embracing social dialogue, the Federal Government of Somalia has taken a positive, unprecedented and bold step towards good governance and by extension the return of the country to rule of law as well as an envisioned stable pathway to lasting peace and sustainable development. The best way to tackle human rights issues is through dialogue and constitutionally based procedural and substantive guarantees not through more oppression,” declared Osman.

NUSOJ argued during the meeting that the outcome of the constitutional amendments should be put to referendum being fully cognisant of the causes of human rights violations, abridgement of civil liberties, abuse of power and conflict within communities. This, the union officials at the conference added, is critical to fostering a constitution-making process capable of resulting in laying the solid foundation for a lasting peace, democracy and prosperity for the people of Somalia.