2010 Human Rights Report

from US Department of State
Published on 08 Apr 2011 View Original

Somalia has an estimated population of seven million. The territory, which was recognized as the Somali state from 1960 to 1991, fragmented into regions led in whole or in part by three distinct entities: the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu, the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the northwest, and the semiautonomous region of Puntland in the northeast. The TFG was formed in late 2004, with a five-year transitional mandate to establish permanent, representative governmental institutions and organize national elections. In January 2009an expanded Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP), established under the internationally backed Djibouti Peace Process (DPP), extended the TFG's mandate until August 2011 and elected Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as TFG president. The DPP stalled in 2009 as the government came under pressure from armed extremist groups and the TFG's top leadership engaged in political infighting.

On June 26, the Somaliland administration conducted its second direct presidential election in five years. On July 2, the Somaliland independent national elections commission declared Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud "Silanyo" as the winner in a presidential election that domestic and international observers declared as free and fair.

Islamist extremists increased attacks on Puntland regional officials. During the year 50 senior government officials and security officers were killed in roadside bombs and gun violence, mostly in Puntland's Bari Region. In Somaliland's disputed Sool and Sanaag regions, disaffected sub-clans waged sporadic violence against government officials.

Security forces reported to civilian authorities in the Puntland and Somaliland administrations. Even though TFG security forces reported to civilian authorities, there were instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently of civilian control.

There were reports of several isolated incidents where rogue TFG troops and allied militia opened fire on public transport vehicles, extorted money at checkpoints, and looted private businesses. In most of these cases, other TFG security forces intervened. Puntland security forces indiscriminately repatriated internally displaced southern Somalis, resulting in family separations and the loss of property and business. The administration alleged that the southerners were responsible for insecurity in Puntland. Fighting by TFG troops, allied militias, and African Union SOMALIA 2 Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces against antigovernment forces, terrorist groups, and extremist elements affected thousands of civilians in Mogadishu. Intermittent resource-related sub-clan disputes escalated into minor armed conflicts. Targeted assassinations continued. Terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for suicide and roadside bombings against TFG troops, government officials, and AMISOM peacekeepers. There were four suicide bombings that targeted TFG officials and offices and AMISOM installations. Security forces in Puntland and Somaliland reported to government authorities, such as the Ministry of Defense. While TFG forces reported to government authorities, TFG-allied militia/paramilitary forces reported to clan or factional militia commanders and were outside the control of official authorities. There were instances when TFG security forces acted independently of civilian control. During the year TFG forces, with AMISOM support, increased the amount of TFG-controlled territory in Mogadishu to as much as 60 percent of the city.

Despite security and capacity problems, the TFG continued to focus on human rights. It designated a human rights official in the Ministry of Justice and a Focal Point for Human Rights and Child Protection in the Office of the Prime Minister and participated in international efforts to encourage better human rights practices. The human rights situation in al-Shabaab and allied extremist-controlled areas deteriorated further during the year. Absence of effective governance institutions and rule of law, the widespread availability of small arms and other light weapons, and al-Shabaab's increased enforcement of extremist societal norms contributed to a worsening human rights situation, particularly in Central and South Somalia.

Human rights abuses included arbitrary killings, kidnappings, torture, rape, amputations, and beatings; official impunity; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest, deportation, and detention. In part due to the absence of functioning institutions, perpetrators of human rights abuses, mostly in al-Shabaab controlled areas of Central and South Somalia, were rarely punished. Denial of a fair trial and limited privacy rights were problems, and there were restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement. Discrimination and violence against women, including rape and female genital mutilation; child abuse; recruitment of child soldiers; trafficking in persons; abuse of and discrimination against clan and religious minorities; restrictions on workers' rights; forced labor; and child labor were also problems.

Members of extremist antigovernment groups, and the al-Shabaab terrorist organization, some of whose members were affiliated with al-Qaida, committed an increasing number of egregious human rights violations, including killings of TFG SOMALIA 3 officials and civilians; kidnappings and disappearances; attacks on journalists, aid workers, civil society leaders, and human rights activists; restrictions on freedom of movement; and displacement of civilians. In an August 10 media release, the UN Independent Expert (UNIE) on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia listed as human rights abuses: "summary executions, including beheadings of innocent people, amputations, flogging, whipping, forcible marriage of young girls to militiamen, use of civilians as human shields, imposition of the strictest dress code on women and prohibition of the use of public mass media, and the bans imposed on listening to music and public gathering, all with lack of due process."