The UN Security Council is considering establishing an independent panel that will have the authority to review and verify annual reports of the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea before they are published, a source has told Sahan Journal.
The move comes barely a week after the latest report of the Monitoring Group sparked a flurry of questions about credibility of the allegations documented in the report.
It also comes on the same day the Somali government said the UN report is based on “gossip” and “hearsay,” calling for the establishment of an independent panel that will oversee all future reports by the expert’s group.
“We regret that the UN Monitoring Group failed to consult the government on the findings and conclusions of the report and permit our response in advance of publication,” Somali government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said in a statement. “It is clear that the report is increasingly dependent upon gossip, guilt-by-association, and hearsay.”
Beginning the new mandate of the expert’s group on August, the Security Council’s adjudication panel will require a significantly higher evidential standards from the Monitoring Group, said the source, who declined to speak on the record because of the delicacy of the issue. The UN group has been accused of over-reliance on anonymous and obscure sources that has led many to question the validity of the group’s annual reports.
“This overly clandestine approach fundamentally demonstrates the failure of the Monitoring Group to understand both the nature and depth of the challenge facing us, undermines the process of recovery and threatens peace and stability in Somalia,” Osman said.
Besides the financial mismanagement at the Central Bank of Somalia, the group also mentioned in its 2013 report how western oil corporations are fueling instability in Somalia and how Kenyan soldiers in Kismayo are facilitating illegal charcoal exports from the port city.
Though the Somali government acknowledged the report, it nonetheless defended its commitment to accelerate the process of reform and accountability.
Over the last few years, as the situation in Somalia has come into sharp focus, the UN expert group has been providing controversial details about its politicians and the rise of the militant group al-Shabaab.
The Monitoring Group made an explosive claim in 2006 when it said that the Islamic Courts Union sent a “720 person strong military force to Lebanon to fight alongside of Hizbollah against the Israeli military.” Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia militant group, had fought with Israel in a 34-day war in 2006, which took place in southern Lebanon and Israel .
In the same report, the UN group claimed that Iran had sent arms shipment to the ICU and that two Iranian scientists were exploring for uranium in Dhusamareeb in Galguduud region in exchange for the arms shipment to the ICU.
In mid-2012, as the Transitional Federal Government’s mandate was coming to an end, the UN group published its report outlining how key government officials were misappropriating government funds and revenue.
The Monitoring Group is “against peace in Somalia,” the then-President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said at the time.