GENEVA 13 July 2021 | 18 organisations and individuals released a letter to all Human Rights Council Member and Observer States condemning the choice of Somalia to replace the abrupt resignation of Sudan from the Vice-President position of the Bureau in June 2021. While Sudan has taken strides to improve human rights, most notably through the repeal of the death penalty for apostasy [the first modern country to do so] Somalia has, on the other hand, made no improvements to merit their new VP position and have rather increased religious freedom or belief violations.

In Somalia today there are regions where the death penalty is applied for apostasy, and the government in Somaliland continues to penalise and deport those who have left Islam. As of now, a court in Somaliland is hearing a case against a Christian couple for “apostasy” and “spreading Christianity,” the verdict has been continuously delayed since May 22, 2021.

The letter calls the designation of Somalia to the VP position, “unacceptable,” and cites the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief who recently expressed that, “It is perhaps high time the existence of these laws is deemed inconsistent with membership of the Human Rights Council or at least, election to its Bureau.”

The letter calls on Somalia to repeal their apostasy laws and release immediately all those detained on the grounds of their religion or belief. The letter also calls on the over 50 Member States, who in March 2021, committed to work to repeal the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy to put their words into action and call for the resignation of Somalia’s representative from the Vice President position in the Bureau if they do not take the above steps.  

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