U.S. concerned regarding conviction of a young woman for perjury because she complained that she had been raped by Somali police.
International human rights groups have joined Somali civil society to raise concerns over the conviction of a young woman for perjury and insult to the country’s honor because she complained that she had been raped by Somali police. A journalist who interviewed her about the rape was convicted for allegedly fabricating a story. The United States is deeply concerned about these convictions and the one-year-prison sentence handed down for each defendant.
The woman said she was attacked by police months ago while living in a camp for internally displaced persons. A local judge ruled that she was unable to show convincing evidence to prove the charge, saying she fabricated the story to make money. He convicted her of lying to the court and insulting the country’s honor.
Journalist Abdiaziz Abdinur was accused and convicted of fabricating the story. He was also charged with entering a man's house without his permission to interview the woman, which is illegal under sharia law. Three other people charged in the case, including the woman’s husband, were released.
Amid criticism of the verdicts, Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said a task force will be set up to investigate human rights abuses in his country. The Prime Minister has said that this commission will investigate the court case to ensure due process was followed.
Respect for women’s rights and media freedom is fundamental to ensuring the development of a strong, stable and vibrant democracy in Somalia. These prosecutions raise serious questions about the protections contained in the nation’s provisional constitution and in international instruments, and they send the wrong message to perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.
The United States calls on the Somali government to act quickly to protect human rights and strengthen the rule of law.