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Urgent Action Needed: Protecting the Rights of Somali Children

Dear Somali Parliamentarians and International Donors,

We, at Baraawe Human Rights Protection, are deeply concerned about the safety and well-being of Somali children, particularly girls and women. We urge your immediate attention to the proposed constitutional amendments that will be voted on by the Somali parliament on March 30, 2024.

These amendments pose a significant risk to the rights and protections of children in Somalia. Lowering the age of majority could increase child marriage rates and weaken juvenile justice standards. There are also fears that certain forms of female genital mutilation may be permitted.

We implore the Somali parliament to reject these amendments and stand firm against any attempts to erode the constitutional safeguards for children. It is crucial to prioritize their rights and well-being, protecting them from harmful practices and providing the necessary support for their development.

Abdulrazak Nurain, Executive Director of Baraawe Human Rights Protection, emphasizes the importance of upholding international human rights commitments. While Somalia’s provisional constitution has been under review for almost a decade, it is imperative that any amendments align with international standards and protect the rights of children.

The proposed amendment to redefine a child as someone under 15 years old contradicts Somalia’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which defines a child as someone under 18. This change would increase the risk of child marriage, jeopardizing the health, education, and protection of girls in Somalia.

Moreover, the proposed amendments solely rely on physical development as the determining factor for adulthood, disregarding emotional, mental, and intellectual maturity. This discrepancy may exacerbate vulnerabilities for children and reinforce existing ambiguities in Somali law.

Addressing the urgent issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) is also crucial. Somalia has one of the highest rates of FGM globally, necessitating decisive action to eradicate this harmful practice. The constitutional review should unequivocally ban all forms of FGM and provide a foundation for comprehensive efforts to protect the rights and well-being of girls and women.

FGM is a violent act of discrimination with severe physical, mental, sexual, and reproductive health consequences. The constitution must reflect a commitment to ending this practice and ensure the protection and well-being of all Somali children.

We humbly request your support and solidarity in urging the Somali parliament to reject these detrimental constitutional proposals. Together, we can make a difference and safeguard the rights and future of Somalia’s children.

International donors should pressure Somali President Hasan Shsikh Mohamud, or even restrain all donors and support to the current Somali federal government if they don’t stop this dangerous new constitutional amendments.

Please join us in raising awareness by using the hashtags #ProtectSomaliChildren and #ChildRightsMatter on social media platforms to amplify our call for action.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We greatly appreciate your support in protecting the rights and well-being of Somali children.

Best regards,

A. Nurain
Executive Director
Baraawe Human Rights Protection parliament voting to pass news law I

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