A group of girls who had been forced to leave school when they became pregnant, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2016
A group of girls who had been forced to leave school when they became pregnant, Freetown, Sierra Leone, 2016
Reacting to a statement from US Africa Command (AFRICOM) pledging to begin, by the end of April, public reporting on civilian casualties resulting from its military operations in Somalia, Libya and elsewhere in Africa, Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, said:
“This is a welcome, though long overdue, step towards providing truth and accountability for the victims of US air strikes and their families in Somalia and beyond. It’s shocking that it has taken more than a decade of AFRICOM’s secret air war in Somalia for this to happen.
“We continue to stand in solidarity with families of civilians who have been killed or injured in US attacks, only to have their loved ones smeared as ‘terrorists’ and have their plight ignored. The truth must come out and they deserve transparency, accountability and reparation – all of which have been sorely lacking from the US military to date.
Civilian casualties continue to mount from the US military’s secret air war in Somalia, with no justice or reparation for the victims of possible violations of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International warned as it released details of two more deadly air strikes so far this year.
US Africa Command (AFRICOM) has conducted hundreds of air strikes in the decade-long fight against the armed group Al-Shabaab, but has only admitted to killing civilians in a single strike that took place exactly two years ago today. This lone admission was prompted by Amnesty International’s research and advocacy.
“The evidence is stacking up and it’s pretty damning. Not only does AFRICOM utterly fail at its mission to report civilian casualties in Somalia, but it doesn’t seem to care about the fate of the numerous families it has completely torn apart,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa.
The death of prominent Somali-Canadian human rights activist Almaas Elman, who was shot in Mogadishu yesterday, shows the risk faced by activists in the country and underlines the need for the authorities to ensure the safety of civilians, said Amnesty International.
Almaas was hit by a bullet on 20 November while she was travelling in a car inside the Halane compound in the capital Mogadishu. She died later in hospital as the result of the injuries she sustained. The circumstances of her killing remain unclear.
“We send our deepest condolences to Almaas’ family and the entire human rights community in Somalia who continue to fight injustice and push for respect for human rights despite the risks,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
The US government must carry out impartial, thorough investigations into credible evidence its rapidly escalating air strikes in Somalia have killed numerous civilians, Amnesty International said in a new report today.
The Hidden US War in Somalia details how 14 civilians were killed and eight more injured in just five of the more than 100 strikes in the past two years. These five incidents were carried out with Reaper drones and manned aircraft in Lower Shabelle, a region largely under Al-Shabaab control outside the Somali capital Mogadishu. The attacks appear to have violated international humanitarian law, and some may amount to war crimes.
Permit Peaceful Expressions of Dissent
Somaliland authorities should immediately and unconditionally release from arbitrary detention Abdirahman Ibrahim Adan, a poet also known as “Abdirahman Abees,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today.
Abdirahman, a popular Somaliland poet and British dual citizen, has been held at the central prison in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland, for over a month, solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression.
Police officers arrested him on January 12, 2019 as he was having lunch at Hargeisa’s Lake Assal Hotel. The day before, he had recited a poem at the Mansoor Hotel that highlighted various human rights concerns in detention in Somaliland such as police brutality, arbitrary detention, and degrading treatment of prisoners.
According to Abdirahman’s lawyers, he was formally charged on February 18 under Article 269 of the Somaliland penal code for “insulting the police and the government”. On February 19, they appointed a judge and set an initial hearing date of February 21, 2019.
The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.
Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.
The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.
New satellite imagery analysis by Amnesty International gives the first comprehensive view of how thousands of structures, including several schools, were demolished in sudden forced evictions that left more than 4,000 families homeless on the outskirts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in late December.
No warning was given before armed men accompanied bulldozers to raze the sites on 29 and 30 December 2017, according to UNICEF and Save the Children. UN agencies have said the forced evictions left more than 24,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) homeless, including 3,000 children.
Thousands of Somali refugees who were pressured into leaving the Dadaab camp in Kenya are now facing drought, starvation and renewed displacement in Somalia, Amnesty International said today.
Returns to Somalia from Dadaab have massively accelerated since the Kenyan government announced plans to close the camp in May 2016. In a new briefing, Not Time to Go Home, Amnesty International researchers interviewed returnees living in dire conditions in overcrowded cities or displacement camps in Somalia. Many returnees said they had left Dadaab because of dwindling food rations and services, or because of fears, stoked by Kenyan government officials, that they would be forced back with no assistance.
“In its zeal to return refugees the Kenyan government has made much of small security improvements in Somalia, but the grim reality is that many parts of the country are still plagued by violence and poverty,” said Charmain Mohamed, Head of Refugee and Migrants Rights at Amnesty International.
The authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region must immediately halt plans to execute two boys sentenced to death by a military tribunal in February for their alleged role in the armed group Al-Shabaab’s killing of three senior administration officials, said Amnesty International.
The organization has learnt that Muhamed Yasin Abdi, 17, and Daud Saied Sahal, 15, could be put to death at any moment after five other boys -– all aged between 14 and 17 – were executed on 8 April for the killings.
“These five boys were executed following a fundamentally flawed process during which they were tortured to confess, denied access to a lawyer and additional protections accorded to juveniles, and tried in a military tribunal. The lives of the remaining two boys must be spared” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
More than two decades of conflict, inadequate health services and discrimination have left people with disabilities in Somalia at risk of forced marriage, violence, rape and repeated forced evictions, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today.
The briefing, Somalia: Prioritise Protection for People with disabilities, reveals how lack of protection, underpinned by discrimination by families, the public and the state, renders people with disabilities vulnerable to further attack and exploitation.
Amnesty International is calling on the Somali Federal Government to act decisively to ensure the rights of people with disabilities are protected in law and in practice.
“People with disabilities face greater abuse in Somalia, are often seen as a burden or as easier targets to attackers. Somalia must do more to protect their rights, rather than allow them to be subject to further abuses because of their disabilities,” said Gemma Davies, Amnesty International’s Somalia Researcher.
Somalia’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is a major leap forward for the welfare of children and future generations in the country said Amnesty International as it became the 195th state party to ratify the treaty.
“Children are the future of any society and their welfare must be a priority for any government. Somalia has shown commitment to protect its children by ratifying the treaty and encourages the government to take concrete practical steps to achieve this,” said Gemma Davies, Somalia Researcher for Amnesty International.
Somalia’s president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud today put pen to paper ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child in a school in Mogadishu. Amnesty International looks forward to Somalia depositing ratification with the United Nations in New York to set the ball rolling to complete the ratification process.
Only two states, USA and South Sudan, now remain in furthering their commitment to the protection of children through ratifying the Convention.
Posted at 0001 GMT 4 March 2014
The UN Security Council’s relaxing of the international arms embargo on Somalia last year appears to have contributed to a rise in insecurity and human rights abuses that has resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths each month, Amnesty International said as it called for a robust embargo to be restored.
In March 2013, the 21-year-old arms embargo on Somalia was partially lifted by the UN Security Council for one year, allowing the Somali government to import small arms and light weapons but not larger weapons and munitions. The Security Council is due to review this embargo by 6 March 2014 and the government has requested the embargo to be lifted.
“The facts speak for themselves – security for Somalia’s people remains extremely volatile, and the ongoing flow of arms into the country is fanning the flames of armed violence and grave human rights abuses against civilians,” said Michelle Kagari, Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International.
Forcibly returning people to a volatile security situation in Somalia would violate international law, Amnesty International said as Danish courts are due to consider returning five Somali citizens currently living in Denmark.
The Danish hearings on Thursday and Friday come after at least two other European states – Norway and the Netherlands – have already ended suspensions on forcibly returning people to the Somali capital Mogadishu.
The Dutch and Norwegian decisions – in December 2012 and February 2013, respectively – cited improved security in the capital as the reason for the change. But the European Court of Human Rights and Dutch courts have suspended the deportation of four Somali nationals from the Netherlands since then, while the security situation remains poor in Mogadishu, and extremely dire in other parts of Somalia.
“Though there have been improvements in the security situation in Mogadishu, it remains fragile and volatile,” said Sarah Jackson, Deputy Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.
It is premature for the UN Security Council to consider lifting an arms embargo on Somalia later this week, Amnesty International said as it warned such a move could see armed groups such as al-Shabab getting its hands on even more weapons, while removing existing mechanisms of transparency and accountability.
Despite improvements in security in some areas of the country, including in Mogadishu, civilians still face a high risk of being killed or injured during outbreaks of fighting, in air strikes, mortar shelling or through the use of suicide attacks and improvised explosive devices.
“Without adequate safeguards, arms transfers may expose Somali civilians to even greater risk and worsen the humanitarian situation,” said Gemma Davies, Amnesty International’s Somalia researcher.
“For several years, the arms embargo on Somalia has been continuously violated with arms supplied to armed groups on all sides of the conflict. The flow of arms to Somalia has fuelled serious human rights abuses committed during the conflict.”