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Amnesty International Report 2002 - Somalia

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 28 May 2002
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2002 - Somalia , 28 May 2002, available at: [accessed 19 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Covering events from January-December 2001
Head of state: Abdiqasim Salad Hassan
Head of transitional national government: Hassan Abshir Farah (replaced Ali Khalif Gelayadh in November)
Head of Somaliland Republic: Mohamed Ibrahim Egal
Head of Puntland Regional State: Jama Ali Jama (replaced Yusuf Haji Nur in November, who replaced Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed in June)
Capital: Mogadishu
Population: 9.2 million
Official language: Somali
Death penalty: retentionist

Hundreds of people, including civilians, were killed and injured in fighting, mainly in the south, between clan-based militias linked to political factions, and between government militias and these clan-based militias. Death sentences were passed by Islamic courts and executions were reported. Islamic courts continued to operate although they did not comply with international standards for fair trial. Freedom of expression was curtailed resulting in the detention of prisoners of conscience.


The transitional national government (TNG), based in Mogadishu, established in October 2000 following the internationally supported Arta Peace Conference in Djibouti, was still recognized in only a fraction of the south of the country. It continued to face opposition from the self-proclaimed governments of Somaliland and Puntland, and from armed factions which controlled parts of Mogadishu and the south. Fighting continued for control of territory between factions and the TNG, and among factions in the southern part of the country. Some faction militias began to be integrated into the police force and the army.

In March, a number of faction leaders, opposed to the TNG, met in Ethiopia and formed the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC). Their stated aim was to hold a conference in 2002 that would lead to the establishment of a "representative Transitional Government of National Unity".

In a national referendum in Somaliland in June, voters endorsed the new Constitution which declared Somaliland's independence as a state. The referendum was opposed by the TNG and Puntland regional authority.

The term of Puntland leader Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed came to an end in June. Under the Puntland Charter he was replaced temporarily by the President of the Supreme Court, Yusuf Haji Nur. Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed refused to acknowledge his replacement, and supporters of both sides clashed in August in Bosasso, where around 40 people were killed. In November Jama Ali Jama was appointed by elders as the next leader, although this decision was again rejected by Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed. Fighting between supporters of both sides broke out in November and December in Garowe, resulting in the deaths of at least 13 people.

In October, the TNG lost a vote of no-confidence and the government was dismissed. A new Prime Minister, Hassan Abshir Farah, was appointed in November.


Several attempts at reconciliation were made during 2001. In March the League of Arab States adopted a resolution urging support within Somalia for the TNG. In May the TNG announced it was appointing a 25-member National Commission for Reconciliation and Property Settlement. However, the Chair resigned in July citing a lack of government support. In December the Kenyan government hosted a conference attended by the President of the TNG and a number of faction leaders with the aim of reconciling both sides. The subsequent resolution reportedly called for the creation of "an all-inclusive government" in Somalia. However, key faction leaders within the SRRC boycotted the talks and rejected the outcome. In December, fighting in Mogadishu between supporters of faction leader Musa Sudi Yalahow and one of his officials, who had attended the Nairobi meeting, resulted in the deaths of 19 civilians.

In December delegates from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development met in Mogadishu with officials from the TNG National Anti-Terrorism Task Force and discussed the reconciliation process and the "fight against terrorism".

A new UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia was appointed and visited in August and September.

Response to the 11 September attacks in the USA

The TNG and Puntland authorities swiftly and continually denied reports that al-Qa'ida training camps were present in Somalia, and the TNG established a National Anti-Terrorism Task Force in September. al-Itihad, an Islamist group based in Somalia, was included in a list of banned organizations issued by the US government.

Severe economic repercussions were felt by thousands of Somalis after the foreign assets of Al-Barakat, the major remittance bank in Somalia, were frozen by the US government which claimed that Al-Barakat was diverting funds to al-Qa'ida.

Tensions grew in late 2001 following reports that Somalia had been identified by the US government as a possible target for "anti-terrorist" action. In December, delegations from the US government and the UN visited Somalia to discuss security concerns with TNG and Somaliland officials.

Civilian victims of armed conflict

Fighting between rival clans and factions continued throughout 2001. Hundreds of civilians were killed in outbreaks during which indiscriminate force was used. Incidents took place mainly in the Mogadishu area and in the south and reportedly also involved Ethiopian troops supporting the Rahanwein Resistance Army. Scores of civilians were indiscriminately killed during fighting between rival clans and factions in May and July in Mogadishu. In October, 30 people were killed in Mogadishu in fighting between government forces and militia linked to political factions. There were killings and reprisal killings of clan opponents, expulsions of members of other clans, cases of kidnapping as well as detention, and torture or ill-treatment of prisoners. Women and minorities were particularly vulnerable to abuses. None of the factions respected the principles of international humanitarian law which regulate the conduct of armed conflict and protect civilians.

  • In November, 18 students were reportedly shot dead by armed factions at their school near Buulo Barde in Hiran region.
  • In March gunmen in Mogadishu abducted four UN staff members and three from the non-governmental organization Médecins sans frontières. All were released unharmed several days later.
Rule of law

A process to gradually bring Islamic courts, established by faction leaders, into the national judicial system began in Mogadishu. However, there was concern that they did not meet recognized standards of fair trial and judicial competence. Several death sentences were imposed by such courts, which were reportedly immediately carried out. Concern continued that judicial administrations and police forces in Somaliland and Puntland displayed inconsistent respect for legal rights. Reports persisted by human rights defenders in Somaliland of arbitrary detentions, unfair trials, poor prison conditions and cases of torture and unlawful killing by police.

Freedom of expression

Freedom of expression was very limited in all areas of the country, with little tolerance by government authorities or armed factions of criticism by individuals or the media. Scores of journalists and others were arrested and detained without charge for days or weeks. Many were prisoners of conscience. Human rights groups continued to urge the government and factions to respect human rights.
  • In February, Safiyo Abdi Haji Garweyne, an 18-year-old woman, was killed and others injured when police reportedly opened fire on a crowd protesting at the arrest of a number of people following a peaceful demonstration in Bosasso, Puntland.
  • Suleiman Mohamed Gaal, a former Somaliland presidential candidate, was arrested in May in Hargeisa, Somaliland, and held for two weeks. He was accused of supporting the TNG. He remained on bail without charge at the end of 2001.

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