US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s Lost Opportunity in Mogadishu

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Human Rights Watch has pointed out three major issues US secretary of state John Kerry missed during his unannounced surprise visit to the Somali capital Mogadishu on 5th May.

Human Rights Watch has emphasized Kerry’s failure to at least address the opportunity to remind the government that any semblance of free and fair elections are only possible if the media is free to report on controversial issues and air divergent views without fear of violence or intimidation.

That interference includes intimidation from the central and regional authorities. Somalia remains among the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist and this is unlikely to change until government officials lead efforts to better protect the media and free speech.

John Kerry Visit to Somalia

In a press release, Human Rights Watch said Kerry missed the opportunity to call on the Somali government to do more to prevent and respond to the abuses against some of the country’s most vulnerable communities particularly hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people including women and girls.

He should also have pressed for action against widespread and pervasive sexual and gender based violence including sexual exploitation by men in uniform.

In February this year, President Obama named Katherine Dhanani as the first U.S. ambassador to the country since 1991. She will operate out of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, making regular trips to Somalia until security is restored.

Omar Wardere is a Somali researcher, reporter and editor. He is a committee member of National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and member of Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.