UN chief "deeply disappointed" after alleged Somali rape victim, reporter receive jail sentences

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday voiced his deep disappointment over the sentences handed down in Somalia against a woman who allegedly had been gang- raped by security forces, and a journalist who interviewed her.

"The Secretary-General urges the Government of Somalia to ensure that all allegations of sexual violence are investigated fully and perpetrators are brought to justice," a UN spokesperson said in a statement issued here.

A court in the Somali capital on Tuesday gave respectively one year jail sentence to the woman, who claimed she had been raped in September last year by armed men in government uniforms while living in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP), and to the reporter who interviewed her.

Last month, Somali authorities arrested the woman and the journalist, as well as the person who introduced them.

The journalist, Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, was charged for offending the honor of a state institution and for filing a false report, while the alleged victim was charged for offending the honor of a state institution.

A Somali government official said the country's judiciary was independent and that the executive cannot interfere in the judicial process following international and local outcry of the case.

"The United Nations has repeatedly expressed alarm over reports of the pervasive sexual violence in IDP camps in and around Mogadishu," said the statement. "These crimes are underreported because of risks to victims, witnesses and family members, as well as of intense stigmatization. It takes extraordinary courage for survivors to come forward."

The UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) last week said it was concerned over the handling of the pre-trial phase, particularly the prolonged detention of the accused and the lacked legal counsel until recently which UNPOS said could "negatively impact on the conduct of the judicial proceeding."

The UN statement said that Somalia is emerging from a long and difficult period of instability, with representative institutions and a new Government that has made a commendable commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law for all.

"This journey must begin with a solid foundation based on respect for human rights, freedom of expression and fair judicial process," it said. Endi

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