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«SOMALIA 2015 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Federal Government of Somalia, formed in 2012, was led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. ...»

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Somaliland authorities temporarily closed media organizations regularly, citing as reasons defamation or offending the president and other national leaders. For

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example, on January 12, the Hargeisa Court of Appeals ordered the closure of Haatuf newspaper in Hargeisa, one day after a regional court had lifted a ban on the publication. The newspaper was initially closed in April 2014 when Somaliland police stormed its offices for allegedly publishing false news.

On January 21, Puntland security forces arrested Hussein Yassin, editor of Shacabka Media, allegedly for criticizing the Puntland administration.

According to the Media Association of Puntland (MAP), on September 6, Puntland banned local radio stations from rebroadcasting programs or news generated by Mogadishu-based radio stations.

Violence and Harassment: The government, government-aligned militias, authorities in Somaliland and Puntland, ISWA, IGA, IJA, ASWJ, al-Shabaab, and unknown assailants abused and harassed journalists with impunity.

On January 4, NISA agents arbitrarily detained journalists Mohamed Salaad Osman and Ibrahim Haji Yusuf, who were covering an explosion in Mogadishu for Radio Goobjoog. The two were later released without charge.

On September 8, the MAP issued a press statement highlighting the alleged harassment and threats to the life of Voice of America (VOA) correspondent Faduma Yasin by the Bari Region police commissioner and governor following her September 6 report on the disappearance of an 18-month-old girl later found dead with her liver removed.

Journalists based in the Lower Juba Region continued to report that local security authorities harassed them.

According to the Somaliland Journalists Association, local authorities continued to systematically harass and arbitrarily detain journalists.

ASWJ militias arrested journalists in Dhusamareb, capital of the Interim Galmudug Administration. For example, on August 2 and 3, ASWJ forces detained the director of Dhusamareb-based Radio Codka Bartamaha, Nafiso Hersi Ogle, and two other employees for allegedly spreading false news. Journalist associations claimed the ASWJ abused these journalists while they were in detention.

Al-Shabaab and unknown persons continued to harass journalists. Journalists reported al-Shabaab threatened to kill them if they did not report positively on

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antigovernment attacks.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Journalists engaged in rigorous selfcensorship to avoid reprisals.

Al-Shabaab banned journalists from reporting news that undermined Islamic law as interpreted by al-Shabaab and forbade persons in areas under its control from listening to international media outlets.

Libel/Slander Laws: Puntland and Somaliland authorities also prosecuted journalists for libel.

National Security: Federal and regional authorities cited national security concerns to suppress criticism.

For example, on May 27, Puntland police arrested VOA reporter Faduma Yasin, a journalist working for the VOA-Somali service in Bosaso, for allegedly insulting Puntland president Abdiweli Gaas during an interview.

On July 6, Somaliland forces arrested prominent traditional leader Sultan Mohamed Muse Cune after the sultan responded to a statement by Interior Minister Waranaade threatening to arrest anyone who protested against the president by stating that Waranaade was a spy of former Somali dictator Siyad Barre. In a press conference, the governor of Togdheer Region, Mohamed Muse Diiriye, vowed to take the sultan to court.

Internet Freedom

Authorities did not restrict access to the internet, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. Al-Shabaab prohibited companies from providing access to the internet and forced telecommunication companies to shut down data services in alShabaab-controlled areas.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, 1.63 percent of the population used the internet in 2014.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events Academics practiced self-censorship. The Puntland administration required

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individuals to obtain government permits to conduct academic research.

Except in al-Shabaab-controlled areas, there were no official restrictions on attending cultural events, playing music, or going to the cinema. The security situation, however, effectively restricted access to and organization of cultural events in the southern and central regions.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Freedom of Assembly The federal provisional constitution provides for freedom of assembly, although in practice this right was limited. A general lack of security effectively limited this right in many areas.

Regional authorities allegedly killed protesters (also see section 1.a.).

For example, on February 2, Somaliland forces beat protesters gathering to complain about a recent border closure in Lowyado town, Awdal Region, between Somaliland and Djibouti. Local media reported one protester later died from injuries sustained during the event.

The federal Ministry of Interior continued to require its approval for all public gatherings, citing security concerns such as the risk of attack by al-Shabaab suicide bombers.

The Somaliland government banned political parties from holding meetings in hotels or public arenas in an effort to suppress opposition to the government.

Al-Shabaab did not allow any gatherings without its prior consent.

Freedom of Association The provisional federal constitution provides for freedom of association. NGOs reportedly faced harassment by government officials. There were also reports that regional authorities restricted freedom of association.

Persons in the southern and central regions outside of al-Shabaab-controlled areas could freely join civil society organizations focusing on a wide range of problems.

Al-Shabaab did not allow most international NGOs to operate. Citizens generally

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respected civil society organizations for their ability to deliver social services in the absence of functioning government ministries.

Regional administrations took steps to control or gain benefit from humanitarian organizations, including by imposing registration requirements; attempting to control humanitarian contracting, procurement, and staffing; and collecting fees.

Some Puntland civil society members alleged interference by security forces in activities during the year.

Somaliland authorities prevented civil society from participating in meetings related to the federal process, which it perceived as undermining Somaliland independence claims.

c. Freedom of Religion See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons The provisional federal constitution states that all persons lawfully residing within the country have the right to freedom of movement, to choose their residence, and to leave the country. Freedom of movement, however, was restricted in some parts of the country.

The government and Somaliland authorities cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on assistance to IDPs, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

In-country Movement: Checkpoints operated by government forces, allied groups, armed militias, clan factions, and al-Shabaab (see section 1.g.) inhibited movement and exposed citizens to looting, extortion, harassment, and violence. For example, on March 3, fighting between SNA and NISA forces over control of a roadblock near Afgoye town, Lower Shabelle Region, allegedly resulted in several fatalities and many injured.

Somaliland prohibited federal officials, including those of Somaliland origin, from

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entering Somaliland. It also prevented its citizens from traveling to Mogadishu to participate in federal government processes or in cultural activities. On September 27, for example, Somaliland security forces arrested four Somaliland musicians upon their arrival at Egal airport in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa for having travelled to Mogadishu to perform during the Eid al-Adha celebrations.

Galmudug officials denied entry to Puntland residents. In an announcement on January 26, then Galmudug traffic supervisor Mohamud Mohamed Abdulle stated the Galmudug administration would fine vehicles bearing Puntland license plates and arrest the driver for 24 hours.

Puntland authorities allegedly continued to ban the transport of relief items by road from the port of Berbera in Somaliland to towns in Puntland, including Garowe and Galkayo. The ban limited the ability of aid workers to deliver humanitarian supplies, such as food, livestock vaccination equipment, nutritional supplements, and education supplies, to vulnerable populations in Puntland.

Foreign Travel: Few citizens had the means to obtain passports. In view of widespread passport fraud, many foreign governments did not recognize Somali passports as valid travel documents.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Conflict, including fighting between clan militias in the Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, and Hiraan regions, and drought resulted in continued displacement and new displacements. There were more than 1.1 million IDPs across the country, mainly in the southern and central regions. Of the total, 369,000 persons were located in Mogadishu. According to UNHCR, renewed AMISOM and security force offensives against al-Shabaab caused most new displacements. UNHCR estimated at least 42,000 persons had fled areas in south-central Somalia where offensives had taken place.

Saudi Arabia continued to repatriate Somalis forcibly. From December 2013 to September, the country received an estimated 70,000 forced returnees from Saudi Arabia. The IOM assisted approximately 15,000 of these persons, providing many with onward transportation by road and air. Many of these forced returnees became IDPs in the country upon their return, since they were unable to return to their places of origin. Forced deportations from Saudi Arabia continued through the end of the year.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor SOMALIA 24 Somalis and citizens from other countries fleeing the conflict in Yemen sought refuge in Somalia. By September approximately 30,000 individuals had arrived in the country, of whom 90 percent were Somali citizens. UNHCR provided returnees with temporary lodging and financial assistance. By September the IOM also provided 8,020 returnees with onward transportation assistance. Most Somali returnees returned to locations in south-central Somalia, with 55 percent travelling to Mogadishu. On several occasions the Somaliland government threatened to close the port and prohibit the disembarkation of Somalis not originally from Somaliland.

UNHCR continued to assist IDPs. The United Nations sought a commitment from the government to address returnees, evictions, and related humanitarian problems in Mogadishu. Government and regional authorities provided negligible protection and assistance to IDPs; the response in government areas was largely ineffective because of limited resources and capacity and poor coordination. Private persons with claims to land and government authorities regularly pursued the forceful eviction of IDPs in Mogadishu.

Somali authorities did not prevent the forced displacement of persons from shelters to camps on the outskirts of the city. Some IDPs and humanitarian agencies criticized local authorities for tacitly endorsing the forceful relocation of IDPs to insecure areas in Mogadishu.

In the first half of the year, almost 100,000 persons, the vast majority of them IDPs, were forcibly evicted from Mogadishu and other urban areas in the Juba, South West, and Puntland Regions. Insecure land tenure and limited land title verification contributed to the large scale of forced evictions.

According to UNHCR, 10,647 households (approximately 65,000 persons) were evicted in Mogadishu from January to August. Of that number, many were IDPs and most were forcibly evicted. In almost all cases, the individuals concerned were only notified orally of their pending eviction. IDPs and others evicted were forced to leave public land that was claimed by individuals. Such evictions continued during the year.

An April 20 Human Rights Watch report alleged that Somali national police, NISA forces, and city council police forcibly evicted an estimated 21,000 displaced persons in Mogadishu during March. The report claimed Somali authorities beat some of the evicted, destroyed their shelters, and left them without water, food, or other assistance. According to the report, authorities failed to provide adequate Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015 United States Department of State • Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor SOMALIA 25 notification and compensation to the communities facing eviction and did not provide viable relocation or local integration options as required by international law. The report claimed that none of the evicted persons interviewed for the report had seen an official written eviction order and that most were unaware of the planned evictions.

Government forces and aligned militia looted and collaborated in the diversion of humanitarian aid from intended beneficiaries in Mogadishu. Most international aid organizations previously evacuated their staff or halted food distribution and other aid-related activities in al-Shabaab-controlled areas due to continued killings, extortion, threats, and harassment.

Government forces, allied militias, men wearing uniforms, and AMISOM troops committed sexual violence, including rape of IDPs in and around Mogadishu.

Many of the victims were children. Women and children living in IDP settlements in Bosaaso, Galkayo, Hargeisa, and along the Afgoye corridor continued to report a large number of rapes.

Gatekeepers in control of some IDP camps reportedly forced girls and women to provide sex acts in exchange for food and services within the camps.

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