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U.S. concerned over Somalia sentencing rape victim to prison

WASHINGTON, D.C. – We are deeply concerned by a Mogadishu court’s decision to convict and sentence to one year in prison a 27-year-old alleged rape victim and the journalist who interviewed her. We are also concerned by reports of procedural irregularities and witness intimidation during the court proceedings.

Respect for women’s rights and media freedom are fundamental to ensuring the development of a strong, stable, and vibrant democracy in Somalia. Women should be able to seek justice for rape and other gender-based violence without fear of retribution, and journalists in Somalia must be free to work without being subjected to violence and harassment. These prosecutions run counter to protections contained in Somalia’s provisional constitution, and send the wrong message to perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence. We have raised our concerns directly with the Somali Government and have urged it to uphold its constitution, including with respect to media freedom, women’s rights, and due process of law.

Prime Minister Shirdon has announced that Somalia’s new Independent Human Rights Commission will investigate this case. We call on the Somali Government to act quickly to protect human rights and strengthen the rule of law.

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