Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders CSHRDS – Monthly Report

         

Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders CSHRDS – Releases its Monthly Report    (15.05.2021)

The Current Political Situation in Somalia

 -Deadlock over elections

Leaders of the federal government and federal member states agreed to a framework which would allow indirect polls on 17th September 2020 after a ‘one person, one vote’ electoral plan failed due the unsolved insecurity in the country i.e. increasing al-shabab’s violent insurgency made it hard to hold ‘one man, one vote’ elections. One of the major sticking points was the staffing of the independent electoral commission which will oversee the elections and resolve any disputes. Because Somalia’s polls are indirect – through delegates who represent various constituencies who will then elect MPs – influence over the process can have tangible returns on how Somalia is governed after the election.

The September agreement allowed both federal member states and the federal government to appoint members of the commission. However, “opposition politicians plus two federal member states namely; Puntland and Juba + Land and the federal government exchanged accusations of trying to manipulate the electoral commission in order to rig the upcoming elections in Somalia.

The FGS and its FMS have appointed a committe to resolve electoral sticking points which are: The federal indirect elections team (FIET), Somaliland representatives, and Gedo seats in a two day meeting in Baidoa in February 16, 2021 with consideration of September 17, 2020 agreement as viable path forward.

The final communique urged the FGS and its FMS to review and validate the Feb 16, 2021 baidoa technical committee recommendations and seek agreement through compromise on sticking points in order to speed up the preparations to held elections. The committee has further requested the regional regional leaders and the incumbent president to convene Urgent meeting to finalise the agreement and pave the way for elections.

Somaliland regional’s resolution to manage representatives of that region and Gedo leader insisting to to manage the election process the process to elections to halt. In addition, the committee agreed to maintain the 30% of women’s quotas in Somalia’s parliament.

According to Garowe online and other local media outlets; More to the issue, the second major issue is Gedo which is the largest region in Jubaland, Somalia’s southernmost state bordering both Kenya and Ethiopia. Its president, Ahmed Madobe, has a turbulent relationship with Farmajo. Tensions between the federal government and Madobe go back to 2019 when the federal government refused to recognise a flawed election which gave Madobe a second term. Though Madobe remained in Kismayo – Jubaland’s capital – his administration never reached Gedo and many parts of Juba region, which remained independent.

Gedo has many grievances with Madobe because of his involvement in forced demographic changes by forcefully and violently evicting some clans and replacing them with his clan from Jigjiga region of Ethiopia, and due to Kenya conducting airstrikes in Gedo damaging infrastructure and killing civilians, as well as the targeted killing of traditional clan leaders of some clans in Kismayo, according to accusations made by politicians defected from Jubaland.

Consequently, the federal government deployed troops to Gedo to secure its border with Kenya whilst Jubaland does have a constitutional right to administer the election in the Gedo region, Madobe is very likely to select delegates favorable to his wider interests, as some clan elders from the region have pointed out frequently to the local media outlets. No doubt, the people of the region want an arrangement that allows them to have their say over who represents them and Madobe isn’t likely to guarantee that, as Madobe wants to have people loyal to him elected to parliament in Mogadishu,” arguments made by a prominent traditional clan chief who was recently expelled by Madoobe from Kismayo.

Somaliland is a breakaway region in the country’s north and because Mogadishu doesn’t recognize Somaliland’s independence, the region retains 46 seats in Somalia’s 275 seat lower house. As clan chiefs play a critical role in selecting the delegates who elect the MPs. The big question is whether the person who has control over the process by which the Somaliland delegates will be elected will be Abdi Hashi, the speaker of the Somali senate and most prominent leader from the Somaliland region, or the deputy prime minister,”

In a recent interview with Somali radio channel Goobjoog, Hashi, who was once close to president Farmajo, outlined a catalogue of differences he has with him and is unlikely to elect MPs who will deliver a second term to the president when both houses elect the head of state. Obviously, the candidate who has the backing of these representatives stands a good chance of being elected the president of Somalia,”

All above mentioned sticking points have led to the failure of all talks on the electoral process in Somalia which led the federal government’s parliament to extend the mandate of the government on 12.04.2021. The Somali Information Minister Osman Dubbe blamed leaders of Puntland and Jubbaland regional governments for the failure of the talks.

Consequently, intense fighting in the streets of Mogadishu between security forces broke out, and to local sources indicate that the clashes resulted in approximately two dozen casualties and displaced hundreds of civilians. This prompted international and regional mounting pressure on the federal government, where, Somalia’s international partners, such as the UK, U.S., European Union (EU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development and UN, condemned the fighting and called for a return to dialogue.

 Eventually, the FGS has reversed its mandate extension decion on 1st May 2021, and President Farmaajo finally accepted to allow PM Rooble to lead the electoral process on the basis of September 17, 2020 agreement. Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble ordered the army to return to their barracks following the vote, and urged politicians to avoid inciting violence. Roble took to Twitter to thank President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for agreeing to not extend the mandate to stay in his position, and said the government would “soon prepare an election plan.”

Immediately, the United Nations was joined by its international partners working to support a lasting peace and democratic election process across Somalia, in raising their concerns and calling on Somali leaders to prioritize the national interest and resolve their political impasse. In a joint communique, the African Union, the European Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and the United Nations reiterated their respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia but also called for an immediate return to dialogue.

In the meantime, international actors need to signal a willingness to punish spoilers, including through targeted sanctions in order to enforce de-escalation. This might break a cycle where some of the political actors have calculated that outside powers will not go beyond public statements calling for an end to the crisis. Unity amongst Somalia’s external partners is paramount at this critical juncture, and external actors who pursue narrow bilateral interests by backing certain factions within Somalia further risk tipping the balance toward implosion.

  • Security, Displacement and Access to Humanitarian Assistance

To some extent Al-Shabab was able to exploit the political disagreement to further undermine the already fragile security of the country and carried out several suicide bomb and hit man attacks to target public gathering places and prominent figures from the government and from the civil society and further boosted its extortion money and parallel justice system aka sharia courts in order to promote its sources of income and spread fear amongst its rivals.

Access to humanitarian aid in Somalia is limited as it is hampered by insecurity and ban of aid workers by alshabab in its controlled areas. Alshabab forcibly displaced over 30 thousand families in early 2021 in town e.g. in Leego, Yaaqbiri Weyne, Goobaanle, and Beledul Amiin and their drinking wells and robbed their camels under the watch of the government army based in nearby miliaty airbase known as Balidoogle in lower shabele region. The displaced families did not receive any relief or humanitarian aid allocated for the IPDs in Somalia. 

Al-Shabab continues to prohibit many nongovernmental organizations and all UN agencies from working in areas under its control, and also blockading aid to some government-controlled areas. Read in this in this link:  https://hanahr.net/somalia-23-02-2021-alshabab-terrorists-set-amablaze-on-entire-civilian-residential-areas-in-several-districts/

  • Covd-19 & Human Rights

The government has yet to endorse the list of nominees for the country’s first independent National Human Rights Commission. The government appointed individuals implicated in serious human rights abuses to high-level positions and Somali warlords are allowed to participate in the political process in Somalia which boosts a systematic impunity in Somalia and diverts the country from the right path to sustainable peace which is “transitional justice” which means accountability and responsibility for the war atrocities committed in Somalia.

Covid19 has substantially contributed to the challenges facing human rights defenders where it restricted all mobility or movement and changed working environments into remote and virtual. HRDs and their work don’t attract the much needed amount of attention, which makes it easy for human rights violators have a free hand in doing whatever they want to do against HRDs and abuse human rights. Covid19 has further promoted an already existing and prevalent impunity in Somalia just to complicate the human rights situation in Somalia.

  • HRDs / Journalists (arbitrarily arrested or killed e.g. assassinated)

Number of Human rights defenders (HRDs) at risk in Somalia are increasing, where the Coalition of Somali human rights defenders CSHRDS has documented 12 cases of HRDs mainly WHRDs at risk only in the first quarter of 2021, who are dire need for urgent protection and relocation. HRDs often receive death threats and face violence e.g. targeted killing, legal harassment or legal defamation and arbitrary arrests as a direct consequence of their human rights work. HRDs are target by both alshabab and the government because of their legitimate human rights advocacy work.

In April, CSHRSD condemned the arbitrary arrest of HRD ; Hassan Moalim aka Hassan Black in Badidoa. Hassan was very critic against the regional authority in south west state of Somalia and he was consequently and arbitrarily arrested after arriving in Badioa on 17th April 2021

Here is the alert on his arrest released by the CSHRDS

https://cshrds.org/category/human-right-campaigns/

Journalist and human rights activist and alshabab critic (Jamal Farah Adan) who worked for several different media outlets was murdered in Galkio by Alshabab hitmen in early March 2021 and more him can read on the links below: https://hrdmemorial.org/hrdrecord/farah-jamal-adan/

https://sjsyndicate.org/2021/03/01/independent-journalist-shot-dead-in-galkayo/

https://hanahr.net/somalia-hrds-face-many-challenges/

Between February 19 and April 9, federal and regional authorities in Somalia arrested at least two reporters and harassed at least four others, according to a statement by the Somali Journalists Syndicate, a local press rights group.

Most of the journalists were targeted for their political reporting, amid tensions after regional and federal leaders failed to reach an agreement on how and when to hold elections that were originally scheduled for February, according to newsreports.

On February 22, regional security personnel in Bosaso, a city in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, arrested Ahmed Botan Arab, a journalist who publishes reports on his Facebook page, where he has about 70,000 followers, the journalist told CPJ via messaging app.

The officers drove Ahmed to the city’s presidential palace, where a police officer asked him to take down a Facebook video report from earlier that day in which he interviewed members of the public about their reactions to a speech made by Puntland’s president, Said Abdullahi Deni, the journalist said.

Ahmed told CPJ after he refused to delete the Facebook post, and the officers transferred him to a police station where he was held until February 24, when he was released unconditionally.

On April 9, police in Adado, a city in Galmudug state, arrested Haashim Omar Hassan, a reporter with the privately owned broadcaster Radio Adado and contributor to the Nairobi-based Five Somali TV, he told CPJ via messaging app.

While in custody, police questioned Haashim about two posts on his personal Facebook page—one, on April 6, alleging that security personnel had failed to pay their bills at a local restaurant, and another, on April 9, alleging that a police officer had shot and killed a young man, he said. Haashim frequently posts political news updates and samples of his reporting on his personal Facebook page, where he has about 11,000 followers.

Authorities held Haashim overnight and then released him unconditionally the next day, according to the journalist and Fu’ad Haji Abdiwali, Five Somali TV’s chief executive, who also spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

In February, security personnel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu also harassed four journalists with the privately owned Goobjoog Media Group:

  • On February 19, intelligence officers interrupted two Goobjoog journalists while they were interviewing people on the street and the officers tried to coach their interview subjects into making positive comments about the federal government, according to the two journalists, who spoke to CPJ on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns.
  • On February 23, security personnel in Mogadishu confronted Goobjoog reporter Abdirahman Mohamed Abdi and camera operator Abdirisak Abdullahi Fagas while they were filming near the site of a planned February 26 opposition protest that was later cancelled, the two journalists told CPJ via messaging app. The officers forced them to delete footage and threatened them with arrest if they refused to comply, they said.
  • On February 25, two armed men approached Abdirisak after he covered an event by the political opposition in Mogadishu, and forced him to show them his footage, he told CPJ. He said the men wore civilian clothes and had guns, and he believed they were intelligence personnel based on his interactions with such agents in the past.

Abdirahman Yusuf Omar, Somalia’s deputy information minister, told CPJ via messaging app that his ministry would take “suitable steps” to investigate the harassment of the Goobjoog journalists if the outlet filed a formal complaint.

Somalia’s information minister, Osman Abukar Dubbe, did not answer a call from CPJ or respond to a message sent via messaging app.  Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency did not respond to an email from CPJ.

Puntland presidential spokesperson Jama Deperani did not answer CPJ’s phone calls or respond to a message requesting comment on Ahmed’s arrest. CPJ also emailed Puntland’s office of the president for comment, but did not receive any reply.

CPJ emailed the Galmudug state government and called a number listed on its official Facebook page for comment, but did not receive any responses.

CSHRDS Monthly Report – April 2021

For media inquiries, please contact: info@cshrds.org

                                                                  www.cshrds.org

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CSHRDS HQ. Mogadishu, Somalia