24 November 2008Welcoming a workshop at which the parties to a recent Somalia peace accord tackled the challenge of impunity, the top United Nations official for the strife-torn country has called on the international community to support them in the endeavour, which could include a commission of inquiry and an international court. “Impunity has been addressed in many post-conflict countries such as Burundi, Cambodia, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah said in a statement on the two-day workshop “on the critical challenges of Justice and Reconciliation,” attended by the Transitional Federal Government (TGF) and the Islamic Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). “Time has come to address impunity and crimes committed by Somalis since the beginning of the civil war. I am very happy that Somalis and representatives of the international community have convened to focus on this crucial issue.”Last month the TFG and the ARS signed accords in neighbouring Djibouti on a ceasefire to end their deadly conflict, the establishment of a unity government and military forces, and the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops who have been backing the TFG. But fighting is still continuing with other Islamic and rebel groups in a country that has been riven by factional conflicts and has not had a functioning central government since 1991. Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted that both parties stated their commitment to work closely together to address vigorously the problem of impunity. “To this end, it was agreed to establish a working group to facilitate a process of broader consultation leading to the formation of appropriate mechanisms to address impunity,” he said. “They agreed in particular to examine the possibility of establishing a Commission of Inquiry and an international court. I urge all parties, and the international community, to support the cooperation between Somalis to bring an end to impunity.”Mr. Ould-Abdallah noted that the talks were taking place at a time when piracy, a result of violence and impunity in Somalia, continued to threaten international shipping off the coast of Somalia with negative economic and environmental effects.