«SOMALIA 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Federal Government of Somalia, formed in 2012, was led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. ...»
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus The provisional federal constitution states that the armed forces are responsible for assuring the country’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and that the national federal and state police are responsible for protecting lives, property, peace, and security. Police were generally ineffective. AMISOM and the SNA worked to maintain order in areas of the southern and central regions. The federal government regularly relied on NISA forces to perform police work, often calling on them to arrest and detain civilians without warrants. Some towns and rural areas in the southern and central regions remained under the control of al-Shabaab and affiliated militias. The Ministry of Defense is responsible for controlling the armed forces. Police forces fall under a mix of local and regional administrations and the government. The national police force remained under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Security, while regional authorities maintained police forces falling under their areas’ interior or security ministries.
Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control of security forces. Security forces abused civilians and often failed to prevent or respond to societal violence.
Authorities rarely investigated abuse by police, army, or militia members, and a culture of impunity was widespread. Authorities sometimes used military courts to try individuals believed to be responsible for abuses. The official ad hoc commissions to investigate abuses by federal military forces and allied militias in the Lower Shabelle Region did not release information regarding the investigation.
The Ministry of Defense’s control over the army remained tenuous but somewhat improved with the support of international partners. At year’s end the army consisted of approximately 23,000 soldiers, with the bulk of forces located in Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle, as well as the Bay, Bakool, and Gedo Regions. The Ministry of Defense exerted greater control over forces in the greater Mogadishu area, extending as far south as Merca, Lower Shabelle Region,
west to Baidoa, Bay Region, and north to Jowhar, Middle Shabelle Region. SNA forces consisted of 17 independent brigades. Army forces and progovernment militia operated alongside AMISOM in areas where AMISOM deployed.
Two separate police forces operated in Mogadishu, one under the control of the central government and the other under the Benadir Regional administration. The federal police force maintained its presence in all 17 districts of the capital. Police officers in Mogadishu often owed their positions to clan and familial links rather than to government authorities. AMISOM-formed police units complemented Benadir and federal government policing efforts in Mogadishu. These police officers provided mentoring and advisory support on basic police duties, respect for human rights, crime prevention strategies, community policing, and search procedures. More than 300 AMISOM police officers worked alongside the formed units to provide training to the national police.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
The provisional federal constitution provides for arrested persons to be brought before judicial authorities within 48 hours. The law requires warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by authorized officials for the apprehension of suspects. The law also provides that arrestees receive prompt notification of the charges against them and judicial determinations, prompt access to a lawyer and family members, and other legal protections. Adherence to these safeguards was rare. The federal government made arrests without warrants and detained individuals arbitrarily. The government sometimes kept high-profile prisoners associated with al-Shabaab in safe houses before officially charging them. The law provides for bail, although courts adhered to this unevenly. Authorities rarely provided indigent persons a lawyer. The government held suspects under house arrest, particularly high-ranking defectors from al-Shabaab with strong clan connections. Security force members and corrupt judicial officers, politicians, and clan elders used their influence to have detainees released.
Arbitrary Arrest: Government and regional authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous persons, including persons accused of terrorism and supporting al-Shabaab. Authorities frequently used allegations of al-Shabaab affiliation to justify arbitrary arrests.
Government, regional authorities, and clan militias arbitrarily arrested journalists (see section 2.a.).
Government forces conducted operations to arrest youths they perceived as suspicious without executing warrants.
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was common. The large number of detainees, shortage of judges and court administrators, and judicial inefficiency resulted in trial delays.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial The provisional federal constitution states, “The judiciary is independent of the legislative and executive branches of government.” The civilian judicial system remained largely nonfunctional across the country.
Some regions established local courts that depended on the dominant local clan and associated factions for their authority. The judiciary in most areas relied on some combination of traditional and customary law, sharia, and formal law. The judiciary was subject to influence and corruption. Authorities did not respect court orders. Civilian judges often feared trying cases, leaving military courts to try the majority of civilian cases.
In October 2014 Attorney General Ahmed Ali Dahir stated that more than 30 judges operating with unofficial documents had executed convictions, including death penalties. President Hassan Sheikh subsequently suspended 21 judges, stating the suspended judges “had been illegally in office.” The attorney general stated the judgments made by the suspended judges would be re-examined, but results of the review were not made public by year’s end.
In Somaliland functional courts existed, although there was a serious shortage of trained judges and legal documentation upon which to build judicial precedent.
There was widespread interference in the judicial process, and government officials regularly intervened to influence cases, particularly those involving journalists. International NGOs reported local officials interfered in legal matters and invoked the public order law to detain and incarcerate persons without trial.
Puntland courts, while functional, lacked the capacity to provide equal protection under the law.
Traditional clan elders mediated conflicts throughout the country. Clans frequently used and applied traditional justice practices swiftly. Traditional judgments sometimes held entire clans or subclans responsible for alleged violations by
Under a pilot project funded by the United Nations beginning in 2008, mobile courts adjudicated 7,681 cases through September. These cases involved 497 clients across 25 districts in Somaliland. The mobile courts project in the southern and central regions suspended activities in 2013 for security reasons.
The provisional federal constitution states, “Every person has the right to a fair public hearing by an independent and impartial court or tribunal, to be held within a reasonable time.” According to the provisional federal constitution, individuals have the right to be presumed innocent, to be informed promptly of the reason for their arrest or detention in a language they understand, to be brought before a competent court within 48 hours of arrest, to choose and consult with a legal practitioner, to be provided a legal practitioner by the state if they cannot afford one, and not to be compelled to incriminate themselves. The law extends these rights to all citizens, but authorities did not respect most rights relating to trial procedures. The provisional constitution does not address trial by jury, access to government-held evidence, confronting witnesses, the right to appeal a court’s ruling, or the provision of sufficient time and facilities to prepare a defense.
Military courts tried civilians. Defendants in military courts rarely had legal representation or the right to appeal. Authorities sometimes executed those sentenced to death within days of the court’s verdict (see section 1.a.). Some government officials continued to claim that a 2011 state of emergency decree gave military courts jurisdiction over crimes, including those committed by civilians, in parts of Mogadishu from which al-Shabaab had retreated. There was no clear government policy indicating whether this decree remained in effect.
In Somaliland defendants generally enjoyed a presumption of innocence and the right to a public trial, to be present at trial, and to consult an attorney at all stages of criminal proceedings. The government did not always inform defendants promptly and in detail of the charges against them and did not always provide access to government-held evidence. The government did not provide defendants with dedicated facilities to prepare a defense but generally provided adequate time to prepare. The government provided defendants with free interpretation or paid for private interpretation if they wished to decline government-offered interpretation. Defendants could question witnesses, present witnesses and evidence in their defense, and appeal court verdicts. Somaliland provided free
legal representation for defendants who faced serious criminal charges and could not afford a private attorney. Defendants had the right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. A functioning legal aid clinic existed.
In Puntland clan elders resolved the majority of cases using customary law. The administration’s more formalized judicial system addressed cases of those with no clan representation. Defendants generally enjoyed a presumption of innocence, the right to a public trial, and the right to be present and consult an attorney at all stages of criminal proceedings. Authorities did not always inform defendants promptly and in detail of the charges against them and did not always provide access to government-held evidence. Defendants had the right to present their own witnesses and evidence. Authorities did not provide defendants with dedicated facilities to prepare a defense but generally provided adequate time to prepare.
Puntland authorities provided defendants with free interpretation services when needed. The government often delayed court proceedings for an unreasonable period.
There was no functioning formal judicial system in al-Shabaab-controlled areas.
In sharia courts defendants generally did not defend themselves, present witnesses, or have an attorney represent them.
Political Prisoners and Detainees The number of persons detained during the year for politically motivated reasons was unknown. Government and regional authorities arrested journalists as well as other persons critical of authorities (see section 2.a.).
Somaliland authorities allegedly kept Khatumo State supporters, arrested in 2014, in prison for political reasons. On September 22, forces belonging to the selfdeclared Khatumo State stormed a prison in Las-Anod, a town claimed by Somaliland in Sool Region, allegedly freeing approximately 20 political prisoners who supported Khatumo State. In remarks to the press, the vice president of Khatumo State, Abdalla Mohamed Ali, claimed Somaliland forces had abused these political prisoners.
Somaliland authorities continued to detain Somaliland residents employed by the federal government in Mogadishu, sometimes for extended periods. For example, on July 2, Somaliland forces arrested and detained Ahmed Hussein Sitin, a member of the federal parliament, for returning to Somaliland without government authorization.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies There were no known lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations in any region during the year, although the provisional federal constitution provides for “adequate procedures for redress of violations of human rights.” f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The provisional federal constitution states that “every person has the right to own, use, enjoy, sell, and transfer property” and that the private home is inviolable.
Nonetheless, authorities searched property without warrants.
During the year AMISOM and Somali forces pushed al-Shabaab out of major towns and villages, including Taraka, Jungal, Duraned, Eel-elaan, Habakhaluul, Meyon, Magalay, Bardhere, Buur-dhuhunle, Kulun-jareer, Moragabey, Legaly, Gelewoyni, Ufurow, Eesow, Hasanow-Mumin, LIidaale, Makoon, Dhargo, and Manaas, forcing the organization to relinquish homes and land it had previously confiscated. The return of formerly displaced persons to these properties sometimes caused disputes over land ownership. There was no mechanism to address such disputes.
In Mogadishu the government and others evicted persons, mainly IDPs, from their homes without due process (see section 2.d.).
Government and regional authorities harassed relatives of al-Shabaab members.
On September 21, IJA security forces expelled 60 women allegedly married to alShabaab fighters from Kismayo, Lower Juba Region.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Other Abuses in Internal Conflicts Killings: Conflict during the year involving the government, militias, AMISOM, and al-Shabaab resulted in the death and injury of civilians and the displacement of many others. Clan-based political violence in the Lower Shabelle and Middle Shabelle Regions involved revenge killings and attacks on civilian settlements.
Clashes in the Hiraan, Galguduud, and Gedo Regions also resulted in deaths.
Somaliland used military force to suppress supporters of the self-declared Khatumo State (see section 1.a.).