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US concern after Somali 'rape victim' held

26 November 2013, 18:56

Washington - US officials on Monday voiced concern over the arrest of an alleged rape victim in Somalia and the journalists who reported on her story, calling for a "credible investigation" into her allegations.

Washington was "deeply concerned" about the arrests of the woman, as well as Mohamed Bashir Hashi, the reporter who interviewed her, and Abdulmalik Yusuf, the manager of Radio Shabelle, which aired her story.

"These arrests raise questions about the protection of survivors of gender-based violence, as well as freedom of the press in Somalia," Will Stevens, spokesman for the State Department's bureau of African affairs, told AFP.

"We call upon Somali authorities to conduct a credible investigation into the alleged rape and hold accountable any perpetrators, in keeping with their commitment to the rule of law."

The alleged victim, a 19-year old reporter, told the independent Radio Shabelle last week that she had been attacked and raped at gunpoint by two fellow journalists.

Rape, and reporting on sexual assault, is one of the most sensitive topics in Somalia, and the case is the latest in a series of arrests of victims and the journalists who aired their story.

Stevens urged the Somali government to "uphold its constitution", voicing concerns that arresting alleged rape victims "sends the wrong message to the perpetrators and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, and discourages reporting of these serious crimes."

The United Nations has also called for "a proper investigation" into the case.



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