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Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - Somalia

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 25 February 2015
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - Somalia, 25 February 2015, 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.

Federal Republic of Somalia
Head of state: Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
Head of government: Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed
Head of Somaliland Republic: Ahmed Mohamed Mahamoud Silyano

Armed conflict continued between pro-government forces, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Islamist armed group al-Shabaab in southern and central Somalia. Pro-government forces continued an offensive to take control of key towns. Over a hundred thousand civilians were killed, injured or displaced by armed conflict and generalized violence during the year. All parties to the conflict were responsible for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including AMISOM. Armed groups continued to forcibly recruit people, including children, and to abduct, torture and unlawfully kill people; rape and other forms of sexual violence were widespread. Aid agencies' access remained constrained by fighting, insecurity and restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict. Journalists and media workers were attacked and harassed. One journalist was killed. Perpetrators of serious human rights abuses continued to enjoy impunity.


The Somali Federal Government (SFG) and AMISOM remained in control of the capital, Mogadishu. A joint offensive by the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF) and AMISOM sought to flush out al-Shabaab operatives from areas of south and central Somalia with some success. However, al-Shabaab maintained control of much of south and central Somalia. Armed clashes and al-Shabaab attacks against civilians increased, particularly in contested areas. Increased abuses of international law were witnessed throughout the course of the offensive, allegedly caused by all parties to the conflict.

The partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia in 2013 appeared to contribute to abuses against civilians into 2014. In February, the UN Monitoring Group highlighted continuous violations of Somalia's arms embargoes, reporting the diversion of arms intended for use by non-government armed forces, including al-Shabaab. International support for government security forces, allied militias and AMISOM continued, despite lack of accountability for ongoing, serious human rights abuses.

Somalia's humanitarian situation deteriorated rapidly due to the ongoing conflict, drought and reduced humanitarian access with conditions as bad or worse than before the 2011 famine. A s of September, a bout 42% of the population were in crisis or needed assistance.

Somalia faced political crisis, too. Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid resigned in December 2013 following a parliamentary vote of no confidence. In January a new, larger Cabinet was appointed consisting of 25 ministers, with two council members retained from the previous administration. In May, MPs called for President Mohamud to resign. In November, following clashes between President Hassan and the incoming Prime Minister, a proposal for a second parliamentary vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister was put on hold due to the possibility of violence between opposing members of parliament. Plans for revising and implementing the constitution and the proposed federalization plan remained pending, leading to increases in clan-based conflict and abuses.

In June 2013, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) was established, which included a human rights monitoring and reporting mandate.

In September, a US drone strike killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of al-Shabaab. Internal divisions within al-Shabaab during 2013 had resulted in scores of deaths and the execution of key leaders of the movement, allowing Godane to consolidate his power. A new leader and known hardliner, 'Abu Ubaidah', was quickly announced. Retaliatory attacks took place, including a suicide attack a week after Godane's death, which killed at least 12 people, including four Americans.

Abuses by armed groups

Indiscriminate attacks

Civilians continued to be killed and wounded indiscriminately in crossfire during armed clashes; in suicide attacks and in attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and grenades. 2014 saw an increase in such attacks as well as on high profile targets. Al-Shabaab retained the ability to stage lethal attacks in the most heavily guarded parts of Mogadishu, killing or injuring hundreds of civilians. Two deadly attacks took place at Villa Somalia during the year, following a number of such attacks in 2013. In August, a complex attack was carried out on a national security detention facility, killing two civilians. At least 10 people were killed in an attack on parliament in May. Government and AMISOM offensives led to increases in abuses by all parties to the conflict. Air strikes continued to be carried out.

Direct targeting of civilians

Civilians remained at risk of targeted attacks and killings in Mogadishu. During Ramadan in July, recorded assassination attempts reached their highest level since al-Shabaab lost control of most parts of Mogadishu in 2010. On 27 July, a businessman was shot and killed by unknown armed men in his shop in Bakara market. On 23 September, a woman was shot and killed in Heliwa district. She had worked as a cook for SNAF forces in Mogadishu.

Al-Shabaab factions continued to torture and unlawfully kill people they accused of spying or not conforming to their strict interpretation of Islamic law. They killed people in public, including by stoning, and carried out amputations and floggings. They continued to impose restrictive behavioural codes on women and men. On 27 September, a woman was allegedly stoned to death in Barawe, a town in Lower Shabelle, on suspicion of marrying more than one husband. She was reportedly buried up to her neck and stoned to death by hooded men in front of a crowd. On 2 June, according to reports, al-Shabaab executed three men accused of being spies for the SFG and the Kenyan and US governments. The men were executed by firing squad in a park in Barawe in front of a gathering of several hundred people.[1]

Unlawful killings, extortion, arbitrary arrests and rape continued to be carried out by government forces and aligned militia, in part as a result of poor discipline and lack of command control. On 25 August, an SNAF soldier reportedly shot and killed a minibus driver in Afar-Irdood area, Xamar Weyne District, after the driver refused to pay extortion money.

Child soldiers

Children continued to suffer grave abuses by all parties to the armed conflict. Al-Shabaab continued to target children for recruitment and forced marriage, and attacked schools. Government-affiliated militias were again accused of recruiting and using child soldiers. Implementation of the two action plans signed by the government in 2012 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as the killing and maiming of children, was outstanding and children remained in the armed forces. The Minister of Defence and Minister of National Security signed standard operating procedures for handling children formerly associated with armed groups.

The SFG had not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols by the end of the year, despite its commitments to ratify the conventions.

Internally displaced people, asylum-seekers and refugees

Over 1 million people in Somalia were in crisis and an additional 2.1 million people were in need of assistance. For the first time since the 2011 famine, food security began deteriorating rapidly. Insecurity and fighting reportedly caused over 60% of new displacement in 2014. Trade routes were heavily disrupted due to the SNAF and AMISOM military offensives; al-Shabaab blocked supply routes, causing major disruption to the work of humanitarian organizations trying to access towns. This led to sharp increases in food prices. These issues combined placed Somalia at significant risk of sliding back into a state of emergency.

In Mogadishu, tens of thousands of people were forcibly evicted from government and private property. Many of them moved to the outskirts of Mogadishu, including the Afgooye corridor, where there was little security provision or access to services. There were reports of increases in rape and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls in these areas. An IDP policy framework drafted in April was not adopted.

There were over 900,000 Somali refugees in the region, particularly in Ethiopia and Kenya. Plans by the Kenyan authorities to return Somalis continued despite serious human rights violations, including the forced return of 359 people and forcible encampment of thousands of others. Other states hosting Somali asylum-seekers and refugees, including some EU states, began attempts to return failed Somali asylum-seekers to Mogadishu on the grounds that they no longer needed protection due to an apparent improvement in security there.

Freedom of expression – journalists

Somali journalists and media workers continued to be attacked, harassed and intimidated. On 21 June, Yusuf Ahmed Abukar was killed on his way to work when a bomb attached to his car exploded. Yusuf reported for the privately owned Mustaqbal radio station, in Mogadishu and a Nairobi-based radio station, Ergo. The Prime Minister stated that the attack was being investigated, however Amnesty International was not aware of any progress in the case by year's end.

Media freedom continued to be curtailed, journalists were arrested and media houses closed down. In August, broadcasters Radio Shabelle and Sky FM were closed down and 19 of their journalists and media workers arrested, including Abdimaalik Yusuf Mohamoud, the owner of Radio Shabelle, and Mohamud Mohamed Dahir, the director of Sky FM. On 21 October, Abdimaalik Yusuf Mohamoud and Shabelle newscaster Ahmed Abdia Hassan were brought before the court on two charges relating to incitement to disturbance of public order and to commit offences. Both rejected the charges and were released on bail, while Shabelle's Editor Mohamed Bashir Hashi and Mohamud Mohamed Dahir were not brought to the hearing. In June, a restrictive media bill was submitted to Cabinet proposing to curtail media rights. In September, the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) issued a ban on national media coverage of all al-Shabaab activities. Al-Shabaab imposed severe restrictions on media freedom and banned the internet in areas under its control. Little progress was made in addressing impunity for the murder of journalists, despite a government taskforce established for that purpose in 2012. People suspected of killing journalists continued to enjoy impunity. Of more than twenty journalists murdered since 2005, only two prosecutions had resulted in convictions by the end of the year. In March 2013, a military court convicted Adan Sheikh Abdi Sheikha Hussein for the murder of Hassan Yusuf Absuge in 2012, and sentenced him to death in a trial that did not meet due process standards. A firing squad executed Adan in August 2013.

Death penalty

Somalia continued to use the death penalty despite its support for the 2012 UN General Assembly resolution on the moratorium of the death penalty. Many executions were carried out by the military court, often involving members of Somali armed opposition groups such as al-Shabaab, government soldiers and people convicted of murder.

Executions were often carried out rapidly, after proceedings falling short of international fair trial standards, while there was an apparent spike in executions throughout the year. On 3 April, a man was executed by firing squad in Kismayo nine days after he allegedly murdered an elder. It was unclear which, if any, court found had him guilty. On 30 July, Somalia's military court sentenced three men to death for alleged membership of al-Shabaab. Four days later, pictures were circulated on twitter allegedly showing their bodies. On 30 August, Somalia's military court found alleged al-Shabaab members Ali Bashir Osman and Abdulahi Sharif Osman guilty of killing the journalist Timacade in 2013 and sentenced them to death. The two men were executed on 26 October by public firing squad.

1. Forced returns to south and central Somalia, including to al-Shabaab areas: A blatant violation of international law (AFR 52/005/2014)

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