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SOMALIA: Amnesty urges "central role" for human rights activists


The rights group Amnesty International (AI) has called for human rights defenders to be given a central role in the ongoing peace process in Somalia.

"Civil society in Somalia, and particularly human rights defenders with a track record of activism, must be supported and empowered, and given a strong participatory role in the transitional period," it said in a statement issued on Thursday.

"Faction leaders must be pressed to affirm and demonstrate commitment to human rights," it added. It said human rights activists in Somalia and Somaliland "voice the concern of Somalis and in particular victims of human rights abuses and their families", adding that by defending others, they themselves risked becoming targets.

Somali human rights activists from different parts of the country met in February 2003 at an Amnesty International workshop, held in Hargaysa, the capital of Somaliland.

AI is now releasing the workshop report, "to publicise and support their activities, and to press Somali political leaders to recognise their legitimate role in promoting and protecting human rights".

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