Mogadishu (PP News Desk) — James Swan, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, has been criticised for accusing Mohamed Mursal, the Speaker of the Somali Federal Parliament, of tabling a controversial Sexual Offences Bill.

“@UN and other partners in #Somalia have expressed concern to Parliament Speaker Mursal about attempts to table a deeply-flawed new bill that allows #child marriage and contravenes relevant intl. conventions. @UN urges Cabinet to re-introduce the original Sexual Offences Bill” tweeted UNSOM.

Mohamed Omar Dalha, an MP, said “MPs rejected tabling of the Sexual Offences Bill on grounds that it contravenes our religion and culture.” A Somali MP who read the draft Sexual Offences Bill told Puntland Post that the major disagreement over the bill pertains to the word “consent” that the International Community  wants to be inserted in the Sexual Offences Bill”.  In his statement Dalha implied that the Bill promotes same-sex marriage in Somalia. “There is a clash of values here but James Swan should not be telling the Somali Parliament what bill to table for discussion” says Hussein Ali, a lawyer in Mogadishu.

James Swan (left) has been criticised for making a hasty inference to accuse Mohamed Mursal (right) of replacing the original Sexual Offences Bill with a new one.

There is a legislation covering sexual offences such as rape and attempted rape but there is no a law against misuse of position by men to pressure women into physical relationship.

UNSOM has not based its intervention on legislative history. Observers believe the original Sexual Offences Bill alluded to in the tweet leads one to conclude that UNSOM originated the Bill it thinks to have been unnecessarily amended and submitted to the Somali Federal Parliament for discussion.

“UNSOM overreached itself diplomatically. It comes across as a body advocating tabling of a distinct version of the Sexual Offences Bill. Ambassador James Swan owes Mohamed Mursal, the Parliamentary Speaker, an apology for making a hasty inference about the Bill” said Hussein Ali.

© Puntland Post, 2020