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Rights Group Reports Increase in Abuses
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Nairobi, 23 Jul 2003 (IRIN) - Violations of human rights and international law increased in Somalia in the past year, a Somali human rights group has said. A senior official of the Mogadishu-based Isma'il Jimale Human Rights Centre (IJHRC) told IRIN that international law was breached particularly with regard to the "protection of civilians in time of war".

"It is often civilians who are killed in the factional fighting due to indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas," Abdullahi Alas Jimale, IJHRC's chief investigator, said. "The combatants don't care what happens to civilians."

The Mogadishu-based IJHRC, the largest rights group in the country, commemorated the seventh anniversary of its formation and marked Somalia human rights day on Tuesday. 

During the ceremony, the group presented its annual report on the country's human rights record. Alas told IRIN that IJHRC had recorded 530 civilians killed between July 2002 and July 2003. "These are noncombatants whom we were able to register. I am sure there were more," he added. The organization also recorded 31 rapes and 185 abductions during the same period, he said.

Alas said "most of the violations took place in southern Somalia, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu, and its environs" and that most of the victims were from minority groups "who have no clan affiliations as protection".

He called on delegates attending the Somali peace talks in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, to choose leaders who would protect the human rights of all Somalis. "Only people with clean records should be selected for positions of responsibility," he said.

It would be unacceptable for those who had committed human rights violations "to be given new positions of power and to be allowed to get away with their crimes", Alas added. "Anyone who committed crimes against the Somali people should be tried for his crimes and should not be given immunity."

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