Somalia: State of Human Rights Annual Report 2022 Somalia: State of Human Rights Annual Report 2022
Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders CSHRDs
NATIONAL NETWORKING OF HUMAN RIGHT DEFENDERS FOR STRENGTHENING COORDINATION & ADVOCACY IN SOMALIA (Human Rights )
Accumulated 2021 Human rights Reports in Somalia.
Executive Summary. iii
– Collected Reports of Human Rights Occurrences in 2022
The Federal Government of Somalia and its administrative regions Banadir Juba Land Hirshabelle Galmudug Puntland South West Somaliland About the CSHRDs Verified and Confirmed Sources
CSHRDs is pleased to present this report, covering the entire year of 2021 human rights occurrences. The chairperson is delighted to accomplish this report in collaboration with CSHRDs members.
As we ink this annual report, many challenges rise that can affect our society and ourselves, which is a unprecedented challenge to our leadership and humanity. More importantly you will discover in our previous reports, the past two years in addition to inter-continental pandemic of COVID-19 presented immense challenges to our nation and the world. Environmental and climate disasters became our new reality, along with rampant disregard to basic fundamental rights enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and in our constitution and new legislative challenges imposed by those legislators who have introduced new methods in which we must rise to the challenge and adapt new way to solve these challenges and to prevent, protect and consistently promote the human rights of all citizens of Somalia.
This report summarizes most important human rights occurrences in Somalia in 2022 e.g. violations and abuses of human rights in our country, the advocacy gap that exists, and the increasing demand for more effective human rights advocacy in line with our realities. At the same time, our work of documenting these violations and abuses will not stop nor will it be hindered by the stalling tactics and horrendous negotiations of those in charge to deter us from blowing the whistle on misuse of judicial and executive powers. We demand accountability and transparency within our country and institutions, before the real battle to end impunity begins in earnest.
As we leave the year 2022 behind us, we as the society of human rights activism, need to demonstrate resilience in the face of persecution, increasing threats and many other crises and challenges. In 2022 we learned lessons, we solved problems and gained new experiences that are relevant for better management of the future to effect positive changes in our country, as our expectations are that human rights violations are no longer dependent on human rights activists, but the whole of our country, uniting us all against those who continue to perpetrate violations of human rights in blatant disregard to the supreme laws.
Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders CSHRDs expresses its gratitude for the invaluable contributions to this report made by its member organizations as well as CSHRDs expresses its appreciation and thanks to the volunteers, and staff members who made this report possible to be published. We appreciate their invaluable contributions and efforts. We thank all organizations that collaborate and make generous contributions to the human rights advocacy undertaken by CSHRDs in Somalia.
CSHRDs is also here to express its special appreciation and gratitude to the following organizations and entities for their invaluable contributions to the protection of HRDs/WHRDs at risk in Somalia:
- The centre for international cooperation CCI in Trento
- ifa (Institute fuer Auslandische Beziehungen)– Germany
- The Italian network of ‘’IN DIFESA DI’’.
- PADOVA UNIVERSITY and its human rights center (Università degli Studi di Padova – Centro di Ateneo per i Diritti Umani)
- Trento University
- Padova municipality and others who are committed to the defence of human rights for all.
- Peacebuilding Agency AP based in Italy
- Other international partners
- Executive Summary
This is the annual report of 2022 prepared by the coalition of Somali human rights defenders CSHRDs between January to December, 2022. Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. The country is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. The constitution of Somalia recognizes international treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Each year, CSHRDs disseminates its annual report to inform all relevant stakeholders including the government of Somalia about the human rights issues that require immediate remedy and improvement. In 2022, we have seen an increasing trend of arbitrary arrests, detentions, violations of freedom of expression, censorship and absolute misuse of judicial and executive powers granted to officials, as well as there was an increased number of al-Shabaab suicide bombings targeted against journalists, lawyers and other human rights defenders. Furthermore, the number of journalists arrested for merely doing their jobs and reporting on the state of affairs of Somalia has increased. These journalists are not arrested for committing real crimes in real time, nor have they stolen state secrets but reporting on daily issues facing Somali citizens. As such, our report highlights arbitrary arrests of journalists, activists and citizens, police brutality, and internally displaced people as well as other serious human rights violations and associated impunity. All stakeholders are recommended to make immediate improvements.
The areas covered in this report include:
- Arbitrary arrests for cases related to freedom of expression around Somalia
- Violations of human rights involving foreign armies and armed formed forced of Somalia
- Sexual and gender-based violence
- Al-shabab’s campaign of terror
- Drone attacks and extra judicial killings, prison conditions & Torture
- Violence against civilians by armed militias e.g., Macawiisley
- HRDs at risk
To the Government of Somalia To the President, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Parliament, the FGS member States and the international partners of Somalia:
To Federal government of Somalia
- Need to sign the Rome Statute in order to join the International Criminal Court as recommended by the latest UPR, as this will substanitially contriubte to transitional justice in Somalia
- Need to comply with the existing local and international laws in dealing with the media and journalists
- Need to respect freedom of the press and stop silencing critics and independent media outlets and targeting human rights defenders to end the climate of fear that prevails in the country
- Need to amend laws for better human rights practice
- Need to end impunity to human rights violations committed against journalists and ordinary citizens
- Need to strengthen the rule of law and end all forms of corruption
- Need to strong justice institutions that can end impunity
To the President
- Need to consider the national and international human rights law to better understand the importance of press freedom and accept critics for the democratic process
To the Cabinet of Ministers
- Need to work hard to contribute to the improvement of human situation in Somalia
To the Parliament
- Need to hire national and international law experts to draft laws that consider and respect human rights of all citizens equally and comply with the universal declaration of human rights
- Need to work on ending impunity to human rights violations in Somalia
To the FGS member States
- Need to respect human rights of all Citizens and indigenous people living or inhabit in their regions and stop conducting enforced mass displacements, and demographic changes for political and specific clan interests over the account of other clans in order to create one-clan inhabited regional state.
To the international partners of Somalia
- Need to support Somalia with security reforms to better combat alshabab
- Need to allow better training and equipment for Somali national army to better security improvement
- Need to train judicial body of Somalia to offer better justice service to Citizens
- Need to avoid supporting warlords in Somalia and allowing them to be politically active and participate in the political process and enjoy impunity
- Need to support Somalia with transitional justice to create a sustainable peace
- Need to offer robust support to CSOs in order to build better infrastructure for democracy and human rights promotion.
Key International Actors (The international partners of Somalia)
- The African union peace keeping mission need to respect military engagement rules and protect civilian lives in their military operations in Somalia
- The EU & the UN Human Rights Council need to stay focused on rights violations occurring in all over Somalia
- All Stakeholders need to support civil society in Somalia in order to promote inclusion, democracy and universal human rights principles, as well as protecting HRDs/WHRDs.
This annual report of 2022 is the result of a research conducted by CSHRDS staff and member organizations and human rights monitors in all regions of Somalia. CSHRDS periodically monitors and documents human rights abuses and violations, verifying and recording the information on record. CSHRDs collected all human rights occurrences throughout 2022 in order to produce a final annual report from confirmed sources. We do our best by establishing proven & consistent methodology based on information gathered from various sources of information, and field-based research.
CSHRDs staff and sources regularly do site visits in their own regions. CSHRDs conducts field investigations, interviewing victims, evicted or displaced people. Our goal with any research or information is to gain enough verifiable information about an incident or repeated incident violation to bring into being an accurate picture of what occurred.
While there is no uniformed way in which we conduct interviews and focus group discussions, what is consistent to interviewing and conducting research is standardized within the organization: evidence and story to corroborate statements, truthful information, monitors remain impartial, and protecting the privacy, security and dignity of witness. Most of the commonly utilized techniques in the organization are interviewing witnesses and victims to conduct interviews in private settings, focus group discussions or telephone interviews.
Apart from field research used during our reporting and research, we employ legislative and policies in the country, civil society reports, and international laws during reporting season. As always, conducting research and gathering information can be challenging, especially in a society that is conservative. Accessibility to prisons or rape documents are hard to come by and challenging to obtain. Access to individuals in prisons are challenging, therefore advocating for the individual and obtaining their story is done through their family and covert style etc.
Collecting and gathering existing data and reports to build a single report to easily capture 2022 human rights occurrences across Somalia. CSHRDs member organizations that operate in different regions documented human rights violations in many regions in all over Somalia from press freedom violations e.g. independent media outlets were closed down, media equipment’s that were confiscated, and journalists were arbitrary arrested without and with charges; al-shabab continued to pose existential threat against rural and urban communities in Somalia through its terror campaign. CSHRDS closely monitored and documented Gender based violations e.g. systematic rape carried out by different figures and entities mainly in southern Somalia
The main problem of the press freedom in Somalia partly arise that the government uses outdated laws rather than the constitution, because the constitution of Somalia guarantees freedom of expression, media and assembly. Finally, in 2022 CSHRDS helped protect HRDs who were at risk because of doing their legitimate human rights advocacy work by relocating them with the help and direct support in collaboration of international partners.
Somalia, officially the Federal Republic of Somalia, is a country in the Horn of Africa. The country is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest. Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland.
Population: estimated more than 40 million (2022) official source
- Executive branch
- Council of Ministers
- Parliament of Somalia consists of lower house and upper house
- Federal member states
Due to weak governmental institutions and prolonged transitional state building process and repeated political rifts, climate change driven droughts and other serious crisis related to the newly adopted federal system; human rights violations seem to get only more perpetuated in a way that improvement of the human rights situation on the ground becomes uncontestably challenge as impunity prevails.
– Collected Reports of Human Rights Occurrences in 2022
The Federal Government of Somalia
(The federal institutions and the presidential place are situated in Banadir region) – Banadir
During a year that marked the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Somali state, domestic and international attention was focused on plans for the delayed parliamentary and presidential electoral process. Political tensions stalled reform efforts key to advancing human rights in the country, while conflict-related abuses, insecurity, and humanitarian and health crises took a heavy toll on civilians. All parties to the conflict in Somalia committed violations of international humanitarian law, some amounting to war crimes. The Islamist armed group Al-Shabab conducted indiscriminate and targeted attacks on civilians and forcibly recruited children. Inter-clan and intra-security force violence killed, injured, and displaced civilians, as did sporadic military operations against Al-Shabab by Somali government forces, troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other foreign forces. Federal and regional authorities continued to intimidate, attack, arbitrarily arrest, and at times prosecute journalists, including by using the country’s outdated penal code. Somalia continued to rely on military court proceedings that violated international fair trial standards; it did not hand over Al-Shabab cases from military to civilian courts. Key legal and institutional reforms stagnated. The review of the country’s outdated penal code stopped; there was no movement on the passing of federal legislation on sexual offenses or on key child’s rights legislation. The government also failed to establish a national human rights commission; the appointment of commissioners has been pending since 2018. Allegations that Somali soldiers were trained in Eritrea and deployed in Ethiopia’s Tigray conflict added to the political tensions. The disappearance of the former intelligence official, Ikran Tahlil Farah, reportedly missing since late June, led to a standoff between President Mohammed Abdullahi “Farmajo” and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, including over the control of the country’s powerful national intelligence and security agency (NISA).
Attacks on Civilians
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) recorded at least 899 civilian casualties, including 441 killings, between late November 2020 and late July; a marked increase compared to the same reporting period the previous year. Most were killed during targeted and indiscriminate Al-Shabab attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide bombings, and shelling, as well as assassinations. After the parliament extended the presidential term on April 25 by two years, armed confrontations between security forces linked to different political factions in various districts of Mogadishu, the capital, resulted in the displacement of between 60,000 and 100,000 people, according to the United Nations. Federal and regional military courts continued to sentence people to death and carry out executions despite serious due process concerns. Puntland executed 21 men convicted by military courts of Al-Shabab membership and killings on June 27, in three separate locations. Al-Shabab fighters killed dozens of individuals it accused of working or spying for the government and foreign forces, often after unfair trials. The UN attributed six civilian casualties to AMISOM forces between late 2020 and late July. AMISOM established a board of inquiry into an August 10 incident involving Ugandan soldiers who were ambushed by Al-Shabab fighters around Golweyn, Lower Shabelle and responded by killing seven civilians. A Ugandan court martial found five soldiers responsible for the killings, sentencing two to death. Reports of civilian harm as a result of airstrikes in the Gedo region increased. Despite federal and regional investigations into the May 2020 massacre of seven health workers and a pharmacist in the village of Gololey in Balcad District, the outcome of these investigations remains unknown.
The UN reported an increase in incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, including of girls, which often resulted in the victims being killed. Key legal reforms stalled, notably the passing of progressive sexual violence legislation at the federal level. The Somali criminal code classifies sexual violence as an “offense against modesty and sexual honor” rather than a violation of bodily integrity; it also punishes same-sex relations. Article 4(1) of the Provisional Constitution (2012), places Sharia law above the constitution and it continues to be applied by courts in criminal cases. Consequently, the death penalty for consensual same-sex conduct could be enforced. In Puntland, the first region to pass a sexual offenses law, the UN reported on government interference and blocking of investigations into sexual violence incidents.
Abuses against Children
Children continue to bear a heavy burden of ongoing insecurity, conflict, and lack of key reforms in the country. All Somali parties to the conflict committed serious abuses against children, including killings, maiming, recruitment and use of child soldiers, and attacks on schools. Somali federal and regional security forces unlawfully detained children, notably for alleged ties with armed groups, undermining government commitments to treat children primarily as victims. The government failed to put in place child rights compliant justice measures. The previous year, pending legal reforms sought to reduce the age of marriage, including a controversial draft law on sexual-intercourse related crimes—the status of which remained unknown—which would allow a child to marry at puberty regardless of their age. When the Covid-19 pandemic started in early 2020, schools were closed or partially closed for 134 days, including several weeks in March and April 2021, affecting at least 1.2 million children.
Freedom of Expression and Association
Federal and regional authorities throughout Somalia repeatedly harassed, arbitrarily arrested, and attacked journalists. Moments of heightened tensions around the electoral process correlated with an uptick in incidents of harassment toward journalists. The UN and Amnesty International reported an increase during the first quarter of the year in restrictions on journalist in Puntland. In March, the military appeals court in Puntland sentenced Kilwe Adan Farah, a journalist, to three years in prison under the outdated penal code for his coverage of anti-government protests. Earlier, a military court sentenced him to three months, despite the judge reportedly acknowledging a lack of evidence. The journalist received a presidential pardon. Several journalists covering protests in Mogadishu were temporarily detained and harassed. On September 5, Bashiir Mohamud, producer at Goobjoog Media, was filmed being dragged through the streets by Somali police while he covered protests demanding justice for the killing of a former intelligence officer, Ikran Tahlil Farah. He was then held for a few hours at the Hodan police station. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the March 1 killing of journalist Jamal Farah Adan in Galkayo.
Displacement and Access to Humanitarian Assistance
Over 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced, increasingly because of conflict. The UN said over 570,000 people were displaced between January and August 2021. Droughts, flooding, and desert locust swarm—increasing in intensity and frequency due to climate change—exacerbated communities’ existing vulnerabilities and contributed to displacement. The UN and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reported that between January and August, droughts and floods displaced over 90,000 and 49,000 people respectively. Tens of thousands of internally displaced people were forcibly evicted, notably in Mogadishu. Nearly 3.5 million people were expected to face acute food insecurity and need emergency food aid in the last quarter of the year. Humanitarian agencies continued to face serious access challenges due to conflict, targeted attacks on aid workers, generalized violence, restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict, including arbitrary “taxation” and bureaucratic hurdles, and physical constraints due to extreme weather. Al-Shabab continued to impose blockades on some government-controlled towns, notably the town of Hudur, and occasionally attacked civilians who broke them. An Amnesty International report documented Somalia’s inadequate response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and highlighted the chronic underfunding of the country’s health system. All parties to Somalia’s conflict continued to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law with impunity. Al-Shabaab increased its unlawful attacks against civilians. Conflict along with severe drought caused by lack of rain led to the displacement of over 1.8 million people and a new wave of humanitarian crisis. Internally displaced people faced significant human rights violations; women and girls were particularly exposed to gender-based violence. The government increased the health budget but healthcare provision remained poor and access to water, sanitation and food was severely inadequate. Freedom of expression was restricted, and journalists were attacked, beaten and arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted. Media houses were suspended. In Somaliland, authorities severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
In May, after a protracted electoral process, Somali parliamentarians elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president who, in June, nominated Hamza Abdi Barre as his prime minister. A new cabinet was formed in August. In April, after a 15-year stint, the African Union Mission to Somalia was replaced by the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia through a UN Security Council resolution. The resolution set out strategies to transfer security responsibilities to Somalia’s army and police force by the end of 2024. The effects of the war in Ukraine, which restricted food imports, the climate crisis and Covid-19’s economic fallout, coupled with four consecutive failed rainy seasons, created dire humanitarian conditions.
Civilians continued to bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict between the government and its international allies on the one hand and Al-Shabaab on the other. Hundreds of civilians were killed or injured throughout the year. There was no justice and accountability for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. According to the UN, there were 428 civilian casualties (167 killed and 261 injured) between February and May, 76% of which were the result of unlawful attacks by Al-Shabaab, with the rest attributed to state security forces, clan militias, and international and regional forces. On 23 March, six people, including five foreign nationals, were killed when Al-Shabaab attacked the SafeLane Global compound within the Aden Adde International Airport in the capital, Mogadishu. On the same day, the group carried out two deadly attacks in the town of Beledweyne, around 300km north of Mogadishu. The UN said the attacks resulted in at least 156 casualties – 48 killed, including Amina Mohamed Abdi, a prominent female MP, and 108 injured. In May, the new government stated it would prioritize security, and fighting Al-Shabaab. The armed group responded with increased indiscriminate and targeted attacks, including assassinations. On 19 August, Al-Shabaab carried out a complex attack on the Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, killing at least 30 people and injuring more than 50 others. After gaining access to the popular hotel using bombs and gunfire, the attackers laid siege to the building for more than 30 hours. The prime minister promised accountability saying “…anyone who neglected their responsibility will be held accountable…”, but no judicial investigations had been opened by the end of the year. On 29 October, Al-Shabaab carried out two car bomb attacks targeting the Ministry of Education building and a busy market intersection in Mogadishu. The attack killed more than 100 people and injured over 300 others.1
Right to food
The failure of four consecutive rainy seasons, combined with the impact of war in Ukraine on food imports, created a dire humanitarian crisis in the country. According to the UN, 7.8 million people – half the population – needed humanitarian assistance to survive. More than 3 million livestock, which pastoralist families rely on for their livelihoods, perished largely due to drought. According to the ICRC, Somalia depended on Russia and Ukraine for more than 90% of its wheat supplies but the war between the two countries interrupted supplies, while rising fuel costs, another consequence of the war, caused a considerable spike in food prices which disproportionally affected those most vulnerable to discrimination, such as internally displaced people, subsistence farmers and people in conflict-affected areas. Catastrophic levels of food insecurity were confirmed in parts of the country, with more than 213,000 people in famine-like conditions. More than 1.5 million children, including infants, faced acute malnutrition, with 386,400 children likely to be severely malnourished. By September, 730 children had died in nutrition centres nationwide. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab restricted humanitarian access in areas under their control, compounding the crisis. In response, the federal government created the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and appointed a special presidential envoy for drought response to address the situation. The envoy coordinated local and international efforts, seeking assistance and solidarity for those most affected. International humanitarian actors also increased food, medical and other forms of aid assistance to the affected communities. However, funding fell far short of what was needed to mitigate the crisis.
Internally displaced people’s rights
Internally displaced people continued to face significant human rights violations and abuses. More than 1.8 million people were displaced due to the drought and conflict. Between January and August, 188,186 individuals were forcibly evicted across the country, the majority of whom were internally displaced people. Most of those displaced were older people, children and women, including pregnant women and lactating mothers. The lack of adequate shelter and privacy in overcrowded internally displaced people’s settlements increased women and children’s vulnerability to violations such as gender-based violence including rape and physical assaults. In July, Al-Shabaab also carried out large-scale military attacks along the border with Ethiopia, leading to displacement of local people.
Sexual and gender-based violence
Sexual violence against women and girls continued. Some attacks were conflict-related and between February and May, the UN reported four such incidents affecting three women and a 15-year-old girl, including an internally displaced woman and a pregnant woman who were raped and killed by their alleged perpetrators. The ongoing drought increased the vulnerability of internally displaced people to gender-based violence. Women and girls were at heightened risk of sexual violence and abuse when travelling long distances to fetch water for their families. The federal parliament failed to pass the Sexual Offences and the Female Genital Mutilation bills.
Right to health
Access to basic healthcare remained poor. The severe drought which affected half the population led to a surge in cases of malnutrition and disease outbreaks; and more people faced difficulties accessing safe water and sanitation, and adequate food. According to the WHO, the number of suspected cholera and measles cases increased sharply compared with previous years. Covid-19 continued to be a major challenge – by September, there were 27,020 confirmed cases and 1,361 related deaths since the outbreak began. Only around 14% of the population had been fully vaccinated by 28 August, with over 4.5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered. The government increased the health sector’s budget to USD 58.5 million, from USD 33.6 million in 2021, constituting 6% of the total 2022 budget which was an increase from the average 2% allocated to health in the past five years.
Freedom of expression
CSHRDs has issued a public statement on the arbitrary arrests of the courageous Somali journalist (Abdalla Moumin) and sent a chilling message to the government of Somalia and its international partners to immediately release Abdalla Moumin and according to to the efforts carried out by amnesty international in tgis regard, where Responding to news of the detention on 11 October of Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, Secretary General of the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, Muleya Mwananyanda, said:
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is being arbitrarily held solely for defending the right to freedom of expression in Somalia Muleya Mwananyanda, Director for East and Southern Africa
“Abdalle Ahmed Mumin is being arbitrarily held solely for defending the right to freedom of expression in Somalia and for raising concerns over the government’s blanket ban on what it calls ‘dissemination of extremist and terrorist ideology’. “Detaining a leading defender of human rights and press freedom on the pretext of national security sends a chilling message to journalists, human rights activists and anyone else who dares to express dissent against the Somali government. Abdalle Ahmed Mumin has committed no crime and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
Abdalle Ahmed Mumin has committed no crime and must be immediately and unconditionally released Muleya Mwananyanda
“While the Somali authorities may have legitimate security concerns, the ban on disseminating ‘extremist ideology’ is overly broad, vague and leaves the door open to abuse by overzealous security and government officials. This highly restrictive directive is likely to lead to more arbitrary detentions and self-censorship by journalists fearful of reprisals. This is a clear attack on the right to freedom of expression that needs to be urgently reverted.” Background On 8 October, Somalia’s Ministry of Information issued a directive prohibiting “dissemination of extremism ideology messages both from traditional media broadcasts and social media”. On 10 October, the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS) and four other media advocacy groups in Somalia issued a statement and addressed a press conference expressing concerns about the directive’s impact on media freedom and the safety of journalists. On 11 October, Abdalle shared on Twitter footage of what appeared to be an attempted raid by armed National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) officers on SJS offices the previous evening. Later that afternoon, he was arrested at Aden Adde International Airport and prevented from travelling to Nairobi to visit his family. He was transferred to Godka Jilaow, a notorious detention facility run by NISA in Mogadishu, where he has been denied access to his family and lawyers. On 12 October, the Ministry of Information issued a statement confirming that Abdalle was being held in police custody for security-related issues. On 13 October, he was brought before the Banadir regional court, where prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office, reportedly accused him of defying a directive from the Ministry of Information and for spreading a “secret” video but he has not been officially charged. The court has allowed for his detention until 16 October. Freedom of expression was restricted. Journalists were occasionally attacked by security forces and were subjected to threats, harassment, intimidation, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and prosecution. Nine journalists were injured and two media houses temporarily suspended by the South West State authorities. Authorities in south central Somalia and Puntland restricted journalists’ access to election-related information. Security forces, including National Intelligence and Security Agency officials, prevented journalists from covering opposition campaign events and allegations of widespread election malpractice. On 16 February, police officers in Mogadishu’s Kahda district attacked journalists Ismail Mohamed Muse and Mohamed Hassan Yusuf of Somali Cable TV; and Aweys Mohamud Jila’ow and Mohamud Bari of Five Somali TV. The four journalists were reporting on Al-Shabaab attacks in various locations in the city the previous night. Photographs on social media showed them blindfolded and lying on the ground face down with their hands and legs tied behind their backs. They were all released later that day without charge. On 27 April, police officers blocked a group of journalists from accessing the Afisyoni hangar in Mogadishu where the parliamentary speaker election was taking place. On 15 July, intelligence officers from the South West State arbitrarily arrested journalist Hassan Ali Da’ud of Arlaadi Media Network and detained him in an unknown location. He was arrested after he had reported on the alleged ill-treatment of some South West State lawmakers by security personnel in Baidoa. He was released after 19 days without charge. On 21 August, a police officer from the Haramacad Unit shot M24 TV journalist Ahmed Omar Nur at close range hitting him in the cheek while he was covering the Hotel Hayat attack (see above, Unlawful attacks). According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), a trade union and local media advocacy group, two Haramacad officers were arrested following the incident but were later released on their commander’s orders. On 8 October, the Ministry of Information issued a directive prohibiting the “dissemination of extremist ideologies from both traditional media broadcasts and social media”. Several media freedom advocates, including the SJS’s secretary general, Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, publicly expressed their concerns about its impact on media freedom and the safety of journalists. Abdalle Mumin was subsequently arrested at Aden Adde International Airport and prevented from travelling to Nairobi. He was charged with several offences under the penal code including bringing the nation or the state into contempt and instigating to disobey laws. He was released on bail on 22 October but was banned from travelling abroad until the court concludes his case.
According to the Human Rights Centre in Hargeisa, Somaliland held greatly delayed parliamentary and local elections on May 31, which led to opposition control over the parliament. Not a single woman was elected to parliament. In the run-up to the May elections, a local rights organization reported that seven opposition candidates and seven journalists were arbitrarily detained. In early October, the Somaliland authorities forcibly displaced to Puntland an estimated 1,750 people, including women, children and older people, mainly Af May speakers originating from South West State in Somalia from the contested border town of Las Anod. FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION VIOLATIONS Freedom of expression is protected by Article 32 of the Somaliland Constitution, which incorporates Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights into Somaliland law. Freedom of expression is deemed to be one of the essential foundations of a democratic society within the meanings of international human rights law, and that it is a fundamental pillar of democratic processes. However, that is not the reality in Somaliland. Human Rights Centre documented the arrest of 278 overall, while 209 people have been arrested for freedom of expression incidences perpetrated by the government. These include Facebook posts, protests, and demonstrations that have occurred in the country due to the untimely election process and other social grievances. Dissenting voices, critics of the government, and public demonstrations documented emphasize government overreach. In overreaching, the subsequent actions followed are the censorship and crackdown of journalists, crackdown on disseminating and accessing information, and suspension and or closures of media houses. Facebook posts are often used by the government to arrest and detain individuals without proper procedure showcasing how common this practice is3 , including court warrant for their arrest, and rule of law while in detention. Freedom of assembly and protest Protests held by the Opposition party occurred on June 9 th and August 11, 2022, resulting in mass protests and demonstrations across Hargeisa, Burco, and Erigavo to protest the political stalemate of the presidential and party elections which were to be held on November 13, 2022. The stalemate ultimately led to a term extension for both President Muse Bihi and Guurti. According to Article 32 subsection 2, Somaliland guarantees every citizen the opportunity to organize and participate in any peaceful assembly and demonstration without government interference. Furthermore, the protests led to mass arrests of the opposition party members and Interviews with detainees, journalist, and opposition conducted by Human Rights Centre in a calendar year citizens alike. Both events produced record arrests, police brutality where Somaliland security forces opened fire on unarmed civilians using illegal force and live ammunition such as rubber bullets, unlawful civil procedures, and diminishing the role of rule of law. The August 11, 2022, record shows that five people died, however, accountability for the deaths and investigation of both events conveyed a broken system in Somaliland, in which there is no answer to the parties responsible for the deaths or the commands given in which armed fire or weapons were utilized against demonstrators. Independent Investigations by the Somaliland parliament of both protests yielded no real answers for the deaths of citizens, nor accountability and transparency in the use of force and ammunition. The Human Rights Centre collected and cross-referenced multiple sources to create a comprehensive list verifying and documenting arrest records, records of injuries, and death numbers. We’ve compiled these lists from our monitoring sources in the six regions of Somaliland, along with information collected from the courts and police sources to verify the information received. Further infringing on the rights of the citizens, Somaliland government used telecommunication networks to cut off internet from the public. The shutdown of internet services restricts freedom of expression for citizens, censoring the ability to get information. Political Tensions in LasAnod resulting in demonstrations Abditafatah Abdullahi Abdi (Hadrawi) was a member of the Waddani Party who was assassinated in LasAnod on December 26, 2022. Abdifatah’s assassination contributes to the long list of assassinations and disappearances that occur in the city of LasAnod, the region of Sool. Shortly after, protestors took to the streets of LasAnod to publicly address the assassination. All the same, during the protest Somaliland security forces opened fire against unarmed civilians. According to records we’ve received, 8 people died initially at the start of the protests, and 2 people died from succumbing to their injuries, adding to the total of 10 people that have died overall during the days the protest lasted, 28 wounded and transferred to hospitals around the city and 59 people arrested for taking part in the demonstrations, exacerbating the tensions in the region with the presence of security forces. However, those that were arrested Report published by the Somaliland Parliament Standing and Ethics Committee were transferred to Maandhera prison and were released on January 7th, 2023. Sources have informed the center that internet services have been disrupted since January 1, 2023, violating the rights of citizens in the city by disrupting their right to receive and access information. To further conflate the tensions in the city, disappearances and assassinations that occur in LasAnod are ever addressed as for the causes, reason or the parties responsible by authorities in Somaliland. Detention of Opposition party members and leaders Opposition members and leaders arrested during the demonstrations were transferred to Mandhera Prison, outside Hargeisa regional court’s jurisdiction and Baaki, in Awdal region three days prior to the August 11, 2022, demonstrations. Human Rights Centre were given permission for visitation purposes by the Hargeisa Regional court, in which the process took two days to be granted permission and access to the accused opposition members and leaders. On the account of the opposition members and leaders, most were arrested by officers without uniforms therefore, they did not know who was arresting them, nor did they show any identification on their personnel. They were held and tortured in jails around the Hargeisa areas before being transferred to Mandhera Prison. They recounted a series of torture, and beatings including rib cage injuries, knee wounds, and physical assault by police batons5 . Some members and leaders have mentioned night terrors and trauma-related anxiety due to the nature of their arrest and detention. When inquired if they received medical attention and care, it was a unanimous no, violating their dignity and right to receive humanitarian care. Nevertheless, they received first aid care from the prison’s clinic days later. When they raised the matter of medical care, they received while in Maandhera, accounts detailed by the members showed that they were visited by individuals wearing white coats with masks, whom they could not identify nor affiliated with any legitimate agency. The members and leaders believe the masked individuals were sent to scare, threaten, and intimidate them while in detention, raising concern for more trauma endured. They did not have access to their medications for gastric/acid reflex issues and high blood pressure, which most accused complain of. Of the 14 individuals arrested, 12 had injuries and Interviews conducted by Human Rights Centre from the opposition members in June 2022 health issues concerning the Human Rights Centre of the wellbeing of detainees in the hands of the police of Somaliland. Opposition members and leaders were in prison from June 9th until July 5, 2022. They were released based on a presidential pardon. The arrest of opposition members and leaders totaled 21 by the end of the postponement period of the presidential elections. Suspension and/or Closure of Media houses Arbitrary arrests related to freedom of expression have risen exponentially, the government has closed three media houses. The closure of BBC Somali and BBC Media Action violates the freedom of media guaranteed by the Constitution of Somaliland and international human rights law and undermines freedom of media as enshrined by the constitution. Following the closure of BBC Media Action, five staff members were also arrested and released the following day on July 25, 2022. Local television house CBA Tv7 was also suspended on 07/09/2022, based on an alleged license issue. The article used to impose the fine against CBA TV is 45 of the Media ACT NO: 27/2004, however it is a non-existent article, as the whole draft of the act contains 32 articles. While this is not the first occurrence in Somaliland with the closure of media houses, it limits the independence the work of the media and journalists to freely operate within the country. Detention and persecution of Journalists Criminalization of journalism is on the rise in Somaliland8 . In the past year alone, Human Rights Centre has recorded a total of 48 arrested for freedom of expression violations. Monitoring conducted by the Centre has seen a broad crackdown on journalists following the prison incident in Hargeisa in April 2022, where 17 journalists were detained covering the clash between inmates and guards. Additionally, evidence exhibited following the prison incident, and the two demonstrations that occurred in the country in June and August 2022, shows Somaliland police forces use tactics and methods that violate and are in contradiction to the country’s Constitution. List was shared with the Centre indicating the numbers of opposition party members arrested The charge sheet from the Marodijeex Regional Court. Based on data collected by the Centre since its inception. Methods such as torture, beatings, use of a physical force with weapons, and intimidation to force confession and information without a lawyer present as an attempt to silence and censor the work of the media in Somaliland, as detailed by eyewitness sources. Repeated incidents involving journalists continues to be high. While the 2004 Media Act protects journalists at large, the fact remains that they work in a hostile environment that persecutes them for being critical of the government or merely reporting on issues within the country. Somaliland Constitution states that subjugation of the media is prohibited, and oftentimes, journalists are detained without court approved warrants. Legal frameworks such as the constitution and Somali Penal use outdated articles, most of which criminalizes gaining journalists gaining access to information as it considers slander and defamation and does not take into consideration how far technology has come since the drafting of the Somali Penal code in 1961. In total, seven journalists were prosecuted and sentenced. Their crimes were related to license issues and anti-nationalism slander or propaganda. Jamal Ibrahim Mohamed is a freelance journalist who was arrested in Hargeisa on 6/2/2022. He was interrogated by CID, released and then was arrested again on 8/2/2022. He was remanded twice by the courts, was not charged with a crime nor prosecuted. However, He was detained on 8/03/2022 and sentenced to a fine of 2 million Somaliland shillings on 31/03/2022 by Hargeisa Regional Court. Ahmedqani Jama Xirsi Tulux was arrested on 14/03/2022, prosecuted and was charged with articles 215 and 238 of the Somali Penal Code. He was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 1 million Somaliland Shilling. Mohammed Abdi Sheik Ilig and Abdijabbar Mohammed Hussein were incarcerated for 82 days after the Hargeisa Central Prison incident after being charged with “subversive or Anti-National Propaganda and Publication or Circulation of False, Exaggerated, Or Tendentious News Capable of Disturbing Public Order” by the Somali Penal Code. They were released by presidential pardon. Abdirahman Mohamed Adami, a reporter of Horyaal TV in Erigabo and Jabir Saeed Duale, a reporter of Eryal TV in Erigabo are accused of circulating false, exaggerated news by the government. They were arrested on 17/10/2022, released on bail on 18/10/2022. Their case is still ongoing and pending after interviewing people from Fiqifuliye, a district town in Sanaag region. However, the complaints argued by the individuals they interviewed were against the Military commander of the district. Part of the conditions of their bail is that they are not allowed to travel outside of Somaliland. The graph below shows where the most violations of arrests occurred in the regions of Somaliland for journalists: Figure: Journalists’ detentions per regions Maroodi jeex , 65% Awdal , 2% Saahil , 6% Togdheer , 6% Sanaag, 15% Sool , 6% Maroodi jeex Awdal Saahil Togdheer Sanaag Sool #Case study Mohammed Ilig was arrested, covering the prison scuffle that occurred on April 13, 2022. He was charged and tried along with two other journalists. Authorities arbitrarily detained Mohammed Ilig, on charges related to spreading slander and anti-nationalist propaganda, along with licensure issues. Subsequently, he was released on July 2, 2022. Though he was released, Mohammed Ilig received an order from the Ministry of Information, National Guidance, and Culture, where they imposed an exuberant amount based on his license. According to the Penal Code, the amount for license issues is estimated around 2-5000 Somaliland Shillings. Nevertheless, due to the summons and police confrontation at his place of work, Mohammed Ilig paid a fine of 10,000 USD. The Ministry of Information, National Guidance, and Culture’s actions undermine the judiciary balance in the country, as the Minister does not have the jurisdiction to ban media houses. 13 POLICE BRUTALITY Across the cities of Somaliland, Citizens have taken to the street to voice their opinions about the political future of the country in two different demonstrations, along with protesting the extrajudicial killings that occurred in LasAnod on December 27 th, 2022. On June 9th , 2022, there was a clash between government forces and demonstrators from the opposition party and civilians in Hargeisa. Somaliland authorities created an unprecedented action that transgressed against democracy and human rights. Somaliland security forces have opened fire at protestors on June 9th, august 11th, and December 27 th, 2022, demonstrations with tear gas and rubber bullets. Documentation by the Centre reveals consistent police brutality during arrest and at detention facilities, at times using unlawful methods of detaining and forcing confessions out of journalists, opposition members and leaders, and civilians during times of tensions as the case has been since the prison incident in Hargeisa in April 2022. To conflate matters worse during cases covering police brutality, the Police Act of 2017 established an oversight committee and bans the use of bullets against unarmed citizens. However, the Police Act was amended within a year, and has since not been legislated for or against. The impunity with which police conduct military operations in Somaliland results in indiscriminate loss of life, due to the lack of discretion when it comes to force or other contingency plans to subdue protestors for most of the time. Somaliland constitution states “NO person may be denied his/her freedom in a manner that is not in accordance with the law.”9 However, that is not the case. Any individual that would like to exercise their right to protest, demonstrate, and have an assembly faces harsh restriction from the gathering for any sort of gathering. Apart from indiscriminate use of excessive force against civilians, Somaliland police arrest citizens, journalists, and opposition members without court warrants and are the main factors contributing to pro-longed pre-trial practices, dragging cases due to insufficient evidence or lack thereof, and ignoring fair trial processes. Somaliland police have used excessive force causing bodily harm and other forms of brutality while the individual is in their custody, violating their rights and dignity of the individual. Human Rights Centre Article 25 subsection 1 of Somaliland Constitution documented cases such as in the recent case against Ahmed Mohamed Abdi (Ahmed Daud), whose trial is still ongoing. #Case study Mohammed Muse Abdi (Galaydh) is a senior ranking member of the Waddani Party and as a result of the actions of the police during the June demonstrations against police forces, had extensive damage to his eye that resulted in him receiving surgery. GENDER BASED VIOLENCE Gender-based violence is prevalent and highly rampant in Somaliland. Solutions to curbing sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape have seen little to no legislative efforts. Civil society organizations and women’s empowerment groups have collectively called for government intervention by passing and implementing the Sexual Offenses Act and reforming the culture of gender issues in the country. However, patriarchal behaviors have become so entrenched in the culture of Somaliland that it restricts and limits the development of gender equality in Somaliland. Most cases of sexual gender-based and other predatory behavior requires medical attention and are transferred to Baahi-koob, an organization in charge of recording data and statistics of rape sent to the government. Rape is often conflated with fornication when cases are brought to court according to the laws applicable, thereby making the cases difficult to convict. Oftentimes, rape cases do not see the light of court system, as they’re usually mediated through the Xeer (customary law) system, which often neglects and retraumatizes victims. The customary laws often do not punish and hold the perpetrator accountable, as the clan system is the fallback to pay compensation to the victim. Challenges such as accurate reporting of rape cases is also problematic as there is no centralized database, therefore record keeping of rape cases could fall into double reporting by different organizations. However, civil society organizations are paving the way in which to care for victims, finding alternative routes for seeking justice, equipping #Case study Mohammed Muse Abdi (Galaydh) is a senior ranking member of the Waddani Party and as a result of the actions of the police during the June demonstrations against police forces, had extensive damage to his eye that resulted in him receiving surgery. 15 women with knowledge on getting through their trauma and creating pathways to seek justice with the support of others and encouraging them to find justice through the legal sector is oftentimes complex and creates a challenge for many to navigate for a plethora of reasons. While the Centre focuses on advocacy for creating change through different methods, including lobbying for the sexual offenses bill, and recommitment to the Sustainable Development Goals10 Somaliland Pledge to follow, specifically SDG+16. Human Rights Centre refers victims and those seeking help for victims to other organizations better equipped to provide services. Human Rights Centre advocated for a 16-year-old victim from the city of Caynabo against a police commander. While we were able to provide referrals for the victim to other organizations, the building of our case for her was broken down by collusion from other individuals, through the amalgamation of the law systems in place. Interference and mediation as experienced in this case will not be the last nor is this case the first where justice was circumvented through other means. Follow up of the case shows the police commander had not been tried through the military court for misconduct and has since been transferred to a jail in new Hargeisa. Cases such as this is needed for the Police11 Act to be passed, implemented, and enforced for such impunity to decrease and the use of the military tribunal for misconduct in office. THE CONDITIONS OF IDP’s IN SOMALILAND According to figures by the Somaliland National Drought Committee in a press conference by the chairperson in January 2022, over 800,000 people in the country experience food insecurity and water shortages and will impact approximately 1,200,450 people over the next four months.12 This humanitarian crisis is further conflated by hyperinflation. However, the humanitarian crisis in Somaliland has exacerbated population displacement. IDP’s are not often provided protection by the state due to the lack of legal mechanisms put in place. Laws that should be legislated to make 10 Somaliland has pledged to follow the SDG+16 agenda 2030 11 The police Act was gutted and has been left to the legislative process, which accounts for accountability and trying misconduct through military court. 12 January press conference by the National Drought Committee Chairperson: https://www.horndiplomat.com/2022/01/15/somaliland-says-drought-affects-over-810000-people-in-somaliland/ sure that IDP’s are severely missing from the agenda of the Somaliland parliament as well as the safety and security of the individuals in the camp. Disputes over land ownership13 continue to be a problem in Somaliland, overcomplicating matters further. Local organizations and humanitarian aid organizations such as the Norwegian Refugee Council are in the country to provide basic human needs. However, the sole responsibility of the IDP’s and treatment of its civilians are designated to the Somaliland government to provide policy which will allow them the protection and security they need, as well as other shelter issues. To accurately collect data, The Human Rights Centre visited three IDPs in Hargeisa, located in Istanbul A and B, and Daami. For the aim of our report, Human Rights Centre conducted focus group discussions for assessment purposes, and separately interviewed a total of 80 people14 in Istanbul. We were able to have a focus group discussion with Sheik Mohammed, member of the committee of Daami, committee chairperson and the deputy chairperson of Daami to discuss the challenges minority residents face in Somaliland. Most of the camps are located and situated in areas that are inaccessible to the residents for government services. The discovery of the visits highlights the dire conditions in which residents live, the lack of government involvement in access services such as health care, sanitation, water, protection, and food, amongst other challenges such as the camp location and building structure of their houses. Instanbul A and B are in the Moalim Haruun district. According to the group discussion, Istanbul consists of approximately 480-500 families. The land the residents live on is owned by a private owner15, who has used threats, dogs, and chains to evict the residents over the past couple of months. Their traditional house16 was dismantled by the owner using rented gangs and dogs to displace them out of his land . The traditional houses do not protect the residents from any weather conditions, such as rain, during the heating season or cold seasons in Somaliland, or windy conditions, thereby creating further challenges for the residents. 13 NRC advocacy meeting; HLP sub-working group 14 Interviews conducted by HRC staff, monitors, and volunteers in Hargeisa on 07/08/2022 15 Information compiled during the interviews revealed Instanbuul A ownership 16 Buul in Somali. 17 Interviewees were displaced from Istanbul A. Due to the location of the camp, the residents face extreme weather conditions, which leads to health issues for the residents, namely pneumonia, and excessive colds, without no clinics or pharmacy location nearby the camp. Residents would have to drive into town to get medication, for which they do not have the money, nor funds allocated for transportation. Transportation is expensive for the residents to seek job opportunities; therefore, they’re forced to rely on each other and share whatever food, water, and coal they find18. The many challenges facing residents are consistently lacking proper sanitation, schools, water, access to clinics, and access to the police to report complaints or for safety from outsiders who cause them problems or harm. According to the residents, they’ve not received help from local organizations or government agencies for many of the challenges. However, they were given a few blankets and dishes to relocate, as well as a guard for protection. As stated by the residents, member of Parliament Barkhad Baatun gave the residents water and visited them to ask about their wellbeing and the condition of the camp. Daami camp Daami IDP is located outside the district of Hargeisa. It is an urban settlement composed of two parts. According to Sheik Mohammed, the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the Daami committee, there are 3000 households. Most of the residents are from the marginalized clan group, Gaboye. Gaboye people already face many challenges and discrimination for being from a minority clan. Nonetheless, economic challenges prevent the residents from having an income source that doesn’t rely on begging, thereby limiting the choices of economic prosperity. Apart from the difficulties of being in an IDP area, the committee have mentioned that security is an imperative aspect for them, as they are usually targets of crime by outsiders. As stated by the committee, SGBV issues such as rape or sexual assault are a low number. However, suicide attempts and suicide are increasing in the camp. This is a critical issue that requires immediate attention and is contrary to the protections provided by the Somaliland Constitution. Within the last quarter of the year, more and more suicide attempts have been committed by those vulnerable and marginalized in Somaliland. As always, research and documentation showcase little effort to determine the cause, or the discourse to investigate these factors by government authorities. 18 Interview, 7 August 2022 Istanbul IDPs Camp resident. According to Amnesty International Report, 2022.; Amnesty International shares the key human rights concerns highlighted in the report of the Independent Expert on Somalia. We are concerned by the overall failure of the federal government of Somalia to improve the human rights situation in the country against the seven benchmarks for human rights progress set out by the Independent Expert last year. The election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in May presents an opportunity for the new administration to address many of the country’s pressing human rights challenges.
Key International Actors
In January, following then-President Donald Trump’s orders, the US withdrew approximately 700 ground troops from Somalia. While US airstrikes significantly decreased, AFRICOM claimed carrying out 11 strikes in Somalia at time of writing, since the start of the year. AFRICOM acknowledged responsibility for injuring three civilians during a January 1, 2021 strike. To date AFRICOM has not provided compensation to any civilian victims or their families. International and regional actors were by and large focused on political stalemates around the electoral process and security concerns, often at the detriment of continuing to push for key rights reforms. International partners, including the European Union, suspended their budgetary support to Somalia in response to the electoral stalemate. The suspension was still in place at time of writing. During Somalia’s Universal Periodic Review in May, international donors pressed Somalia to introduce policies and legislation to tackle sexual violence and pass child rights legislation in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Many international partners called for improved media freedoms, including a review of the new media law. EU member states also called for a moratorium on the death penalty. The US called for an end to military court trials of civilians.
The armed group Al-Shabaab must end its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and the Somali authorities must also ensure that civilians are protected, Amnesty International said today, after a twin car bombing in Mogadishu on Saturday, claimed by Al-Shabaab, killed at least 100 people and injured more than 300 others. According to Amnesty International Africa section;
Al-Shabaab’s callous actions are crimes under international law and it is absolutely crucial that all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this crime face justice in fair trials Muleya Mwananyanda, Director for East and Southern Africa
The bombings, claimed by the armed group Al-Shabaab, targeted the ministry of education building and took place on a busy market intersection in the Somali capital. Numerous children and older people were among the victims. On Saturday evening, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud warned that the death toll could rise further. “Amnesty International sends its condolences to all those who have lost loved ones following Saturday’s appalling and senseless attacks. Al-Shabaab’s callous actions are crimes under international law and it is absolutely crucial that all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this crime face justice in fair trials,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa. “Al-Shabaab specifically designed the attack to inflict massive civilian casualties. Intentionally targeting civilians in an armed conflict is a war crime and, as such, all states are permitted to exercise jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute. Al-Shabaab must immediately stop carrying out attacks on civilians, and the Somali authorities must ensure that victims’ families are offered justice, truth and reparation.” Following the bombings, devastated friends and relatives of victims shared accounts of what happened on social media. Many are still searching for missing family members. Mogadishu’s hospitals are currently overwhelmed as they seek to support those injured in the attacks.
Al-Shabaab must immediately stop carrying out attacks on civilians, and the Somali authorities must ensure that victims’ families are offered justice, truth and reparation Muleya Mwananyanda
No accountability The ongoing conflict between the government of Somalia and Al-Shabaab continues to have a devastating impact on the country’s civilian population, with all parties to the conflict continuing to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law — with no justice, truth or reparation. In May 2022, Somalia’s new government identified maintaining national security and combating Al-Shabaab as its top priority. Since then, the armed group has responded with both indiscriminate and targeted attacks against civilians, as well as assassinations and summary killings of those it perceives to be linked to the government. In August, Al-Shabaab carried out an attack on Hotel Hayat in Mogadishu, killing at least 30 people and injuring more than 50 others. Of 428 civilian casualties reported by the UN in Somalia between February and May this year, 76 percent are believed to be the result of indiscriminate attacks by Al-Shabaab. Saturday’s attack came five years after another bombing in the same location, which killed almost 600 people and injured more than 300 others in what is believed to be Africa’s deadliest truck bombing. Although widely assumed to have been carried out by Al-Shabaab, the group has not claimed responsibility for it. Since 2011, Al-Shabaab has increasingly targeted locations frequented by civilians, including hotels and restaurants, for attacks that have killed and injured thousands of civilians.
CHILD SOLDIERS IN SOMALIA
Among Somalia’s numerous human rights crises is the recruitment of child soldiers. Not only is Somalia one of the countries with the most child soldiers, but its living standards are not improving. This article discusses five facts about Somalia’s child soldiers, along with hopeful measures which could improve the situation in the foreseeable future.
5 Facts About Child Soldiers in Somalia
- Somalia possesses the largest number of children who have died during war in the world. Somalia’s ongoing civil war led to drastic measures, including child recruitment into armed forces. In 2017, Somalia recorded 931 children killed at war, along with 2,127 children used in conflict. Additionally, Somalia verified the recruitment of 6,163 children between 2010 and 2016.
- There are many different ways to recruit child soldiers. Children’s rights in Somalia rank a 3.6/10 on the Children’s Rights Index. This ranking places Somalia in the Black Level for children’s rights, within the worst conditions in the world. This is due to several prominent factors, including the lack of education, forced displacement, sexual abuse and lack of food. All of these things happen to the majority of child soldiers in Somalia. Children as young as 9 years old suffer enlistment into Somali armed forces, both willingly and forcefully. According to reports, a majority of these children actually recruit themselves voluntarily. Often, militant groups trick child soldiers into believing that they are helping their country by doing so. Additionally, in many cases, militant groups kidnap these children and forced them into armed services. The abduction of children occurs strategically. The children targeted usually congregate in places where they are vulnerable and in large numbers, including churches, schools and orphanages. Others choose them based on their height and physical conditions.
- Militant terrorist organizations recruit most child soldiers. Many believe that Somalia’s government willingly allows the military to recruit children. However, this is not true. Contrary to popular belief, it is not the military that recruits these children, but, instead, terrorist groups fighting against the Somali government. The most prominent of these groups, Al-Shabaab, defines itself as an independent militant group that broke away from the Union of Islamic Courts. Al-Shabaab often demands teachers, elders and rural communities to provide them with children 8 years old and older to help them fight. Al-Shabaab has taken the most extreme measures, such as beating, raping, torturing and killing people who refused to give away their children. Over the past 10 years, Al-Shabaab recruited thousands of children to be child soldiers. In total, Al-Shabaab recruited 70% of all child soldiers in Somalia.
- Militant groups choose child soldiers for various strategic reasons. One might question why groups like Al-Shabaab target children since children are physically weaker than adults and lack fighting skills. However, targeting children as recruits supports Al-Shabaab’s goal to oust Somalia’s government. Firstly, children are likely to be more vulnerable than adults. Others can easily persuade them to fight for their country, thus making them believe that their contribution is voluntary and will benefit Somalia. The children who become child soldiers do not only serve as frontline fighters. Militant groups use many children as looters, spies, messengers or informants. Additionally, the physical weakness of children makes them prone to sexual assault from their terrorist leaders, who entrap some children as sexual slaves. Lastly, children present better targets than adults since they require less food and water to live. Groups like Al-Shabaab feed child soldiers just enough to survive and function in the war while remaining weak enough for physical manipulation.
- Organizations working against child soldiers in Somalia are not making any progress. Since child soldiers have a high risk of re-recruitment unless properly reintegrated into society, lack of serious initiatives to take on such a difficult issue demonstrates hopelessness. The AMISOM Civil Affairs Officer, Christopher Ogwang, speaking about recent developments, stated, “Our responsibility is to do reconstruction where necessary. We are also extending our services to rehabilitate social facilities like schools, hospitals and police stations.”
Total Cases of SGBV & Child Soldier Recruitment in Juba Land State of Somalia in 2022. Table 1:Total cases and their age group reported
|#||GBV Types & Child Soldier Recruitment||Location||Location||Location||Girls<18 years||Woman>18 years||Boys <18 years||Men>18 years||Total|
|3||Physical assault / Torture||Kismayo||Abdalabiroole||Buulagaduud||43||201||244|
|4||Forced marriage/early marriage||Goobweyn||Kismayo||Beerxaano||233||10||243|
|6||Denial of resource||Kismayo||Hoosingow||Abdalabiroole||101||101|
|8||Intimate partner violence.||Kismayo||Hoosingow||Abdalabiroole||3||57||60|
Source: Interviews with family members and survivors (Jan – December 2022) hanahr.net
Source: CSHRDs Hotline number –
- 0627423835 Juba land
Total Cases of SGBV & Child Soldier Recruitment in Hirsheballe State of Somalia in 2021. Table 2:Total cases and their age group reported
|#||GBV Types & Child Soldier Recruitment||Location||Location||Location||Girls<18 years||Woman>18 years||Boys <18 years||Men>18 years||Total|
|2||Sexual assault||Gumaray||Jowhar||Middle shabelle||80||80|
|3||Physical assault / Torture||Jowhar||Jowhar||Middle shabelle||80||80|
|4||Forced marriage/early marriage||Beledweyne||Jowhar||Middle shabelle||180||20||200|
|6||Denial of resource||Jowhar||Jowhar||Hiiraan||18||18|
|8||Intimate partner violence.||Jowhar||Jowhar||Hiiraan||73||73|
|9.||Child Recruitment||Buq Aqable District||Jimbiley District||El Ali District||300||0||400||700|
- Source: Interviews with family members and survivors (April – July 2022) – hanahr.net & CSHRDs
- 0627423834 Hirshabelle
Total Cases of SGBV in South West State of Somalia in 2022. Table 3:Total cases and their age group reported
|#||GBV Types||Location||Location||Location||Girls<18 years||Woman>18 years||Boys <18 years||Men>18 years||Total|
|2||Sexual assault||Bay||Bakool||Lower shabelle||30||30|
|3||Physical assault / Torture||Bay||Bakool||Lower shabelle||108||108|
|4||Forced marriage/early marriage||Bay||Bakool||Lower shabelle||45||16||61|
|6||Denial of resource||Bay||Bakoool||Lower shabelle||42||42|
|7||Exual Abuse||Bay||Bakool||Lower shabelle||19||8||27|
|8||Intimate partner violence.||Bay||Bakool||Shabelle||36||36|
|9.||Child Recruitment||Bay||Bakool||Lower Shabelle||0||0||23||23|
Source: Interviews with family members and survivors (July – October 2022) – iniskoy.org & CSHRDs hotline number: 0627423832 South west state (4)
Women and girl’s vulnerability to GBV continues to increase given the incidents of natural disasters, community clashes over scarce resources, and armed conflict situations. It is important that humanitarian actors must prioritize and act on the following:
• broaden service provision; ensure prepositions of supplies and equipment for GBV service provision, sustain capacity and mobilization of CMR and PSS actors to deliver services;
• integrate and expand cash and voucher assistance for vulnerable women and girls and ensure that women and girls have access to material items such as dignity kits, reusable sanitary pads, solar lanterns for the protection of dignity.
• GBV risk mitigation initiatives both at IDP camps and host communities.
• And sustain updating and implementation of integrated referral pathways to direct vulnerable women and girls including GBV survivors to timely, quality and confidential services.
• Undertake mobile team delivery of services to meet immediate GBV, protection and Reproductive health needs of vulnerable women and girls.
About the CSHRDS
The Coalition of Somalia Human Rights Defenders (CSHRDs) is a non-governmental, non-partisan and
human rights organization which is registered under the Non-Governmental Act.
CSHRDs is the only independent National human rights coalition in Somalia. (Independent Human Rights CSO)
CSHRDS is composed of members with notable experience in the field of human rights.
CSHRDS comprises of HRDs e.g. women human rights defenders, indigenous people’s rights defenders, environmental defenders and other human rights activists.
The main objective of the CSHRDs-Coalition is to work towards enhancing the Promotion
and protection of Human rights and defending the HRDs/WHRDs in Somalia. It is registered under the Ministry of Interior.
CSHRDs-Coalition is comprised of both individual and organizational memberships, whereby as of
Aug 2020 it had members who are basically human rights defenders e.g. human rights lawyers, journalists, humanitarian workers, and other human rights activists in Somalia.
- Promoting human rights advocacy
- Creating New Strategies to human rights advocacy
- Protecting and defending human defenders HRDs & women human rights defenders WHRDs as well as indigenous people’s rights defenders, environmental defenders and other human rights activists.
Fostering Human rights & Human dignity
CSHRDs – Its membership and representation in terms of operation is spread in all over Somalia’s (Federal and regional states).
– CSHRDS has women section, namely; women human rights defenders WHRDs that fight for women rights e.g. women from indigenous and minority groups to get all their social, economic, and political rights etc. in Somalia. WHRDs in Somalia from all member states will work to ensure that women rights are respected and upheld.
The main interest of this coalition is to, inter alia, work towards enhanced security and protection of the HRDs in the Federal Republic of Somalia. It also intends to strengthen regional and international interventions towards protection and promotion of the rights and responsibilities of the HRDs. The ultimate result of all these, as this coalition visualizes is a contribution to creation of safer working environment for the CSHRDs. It has been and still intends to work closely with different stakeholders including local, regional, international organizations, individual Human rights activists; development partners; Federal Government and other relevant stakeholders
(i) Understanding the Nature of CSHRDs-Coalition.
-Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders abbreviated as CSHRDS www.cshrds.org was established by a determined group of HRDs from different local Human rights groups based in Somalia on 10th September 2019 and their move towards establishing this coalition that comprises more than 50 local human rights organizations comes after having considered the dire need for strong representation of HRDs rights and interests both locally and internationally given the country’s situation where the political and security situation are main challenges to HRDs’ daily activities. Most of HRDs work under low profile mode just to prevent against threats and physical attacks against them and their families. In the very beginning of the establishment of this Coalition, a handful of HRDs met to discuss issues and challenges facing HRDs and started to engage in serious of serious talks on daily basis in early August 2020, these discussions took place via zoom and WhatsApp group live discussions which led to a unanimous decision to establish a Coalition that represents all HRDs in Somalia inclusively in order to promote, defend and advocate effectively for human rights and represent HRDs interests at all levels and in all platforms and form one amplified strong voice. The HRDs group started to call their colleagues to join them in their efforts to establish a coalition that stands for their rights and the rights of the people of this country. The group made their mission promotion, defense and advocacy of human rights in Somalia. Subsequently and gradually local human rights organizations (small and giant) commenced to join the coalition in order to establish the largest coalition of HRDs in the horn of Africa region. The coalition is growing ever since. (Necessity is the mother of invention) This Basic discussion paper outlines the coalition’s main strategic focus, objectives, out puts and the way forward.
SO1 – Forging Effective network of HRDs collaborating in Somalia.
SO2 – Improved social accountability and governance for better service delivery for all.
SO3 – A transparent and accountable civil society financing framework for reinforcement of governments’ call to action in the fulfillment of governance obligations
SO4 – Human and financial resource capacity enhancement to realize the objectives of the Coalition.
SO5 – To be the leading Human Rights coalition in Somalia, that addresses Human Rights Defenders needs and challenges through protection, capacity building as well as capacity development and advocacy. Over the coming 10-year period, CSHRDs-Coalition will deliver on the following Key Result Areas: – Legal Aid and social protection of human rights defenders, Promotion of the human rights defenders among coalition members, Protection of human rights defenders at risk and human rights defenders focal persons, Civic and legal education, advocacy for law reforms and its organizational development. Specifically, Networking with Global and Regional HRDs, CSHRDs-Coalition seeks to accomplish the following strategic aims:
1. Legal knowledge among legal practitioners improved
2. Legal frameworks for human rights defenders improved
3. Public awareness on human rights defender’s protection and capacities to address the rights of the human rights defenders enhanced (Promotion of the work/ role of CSHRDs in/to the Society, make it recognized hence valued)
4. Human rights defenders’ capacities and civil societies networking improved. CSHRDs-Coalition capacity and sustainability strengthened.
Coalition of Somali Human Rights Defenders CSHDs www.cshrds.org
HQ: Buulaxuubey, km5, Mogadishu, Somalia
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