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US disappointed by Somali rape case convictions


Somalia must protect rape victims and bring attackers to justice, a US official said Wednesday, voicing concern at the jail terms given to a woman who said she was raped and two journalists who broadcast her story.

"We are deeply disappointed by the recent conviction of an alleged rape victim," Will Stevens, spokesman for the US State Department's African affairs bureau, told AFP.

The 19-year-old was Monday given a suspended six-month term for defamation and lying, while journalist Mohamed Bashir and Radio Shabelle owner Abdulmalik Yusuf were each jailed for six months and a year respectively.

"These convictions raise questions about the protection of survivors of gender-based violence, as well as freedom of the press in Somalia," Stevens said.

"We are concerned that the convictions will have a chilling effect on the willingness of persons to report rape."

The United States was calling upon Somali authorities "to protect women in instances of alleged rape and hold accountable any perpetrators," he added.

Washington was also urging the Somali authorities to adhere to the country's constitution, and respect due process and freedom of the press.