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The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Somalia

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 1 June 2011
Cite as Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2011 - Somalia, 1 June 2011, available at: [accessed 17 November 2017]
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.

Population: 9,400,000
Capital: Mogadishu

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status: Not Free

Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review2001200220032004200520062007200820092010

2010 Key Developments: Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) clung to office in 2010 in the face of a sustained assault by Islamist insurgents. Internal rivalries between President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke resulted in Sharmarke's resignation, further undermining the TFG's credibility. The main insurgent group, the Shabaab, tightened its grip over much of southern and central Somalia, enforcing a brutal form of Islamic law in areas under its control. The Shabaab also launched terrorist attacks domestically and abroad, killing six members of parliament and hundreds of civilians in Mogadishu, as well as 74 people in a series of bombings in Uganda.

Political Rights: Somalia is not an electoral democracy. The Somali state has in many respects ceased to exist, and there is no governing authority with the ability to protect political rights and civil liberties. The TFG is recognized internationally but is deeply unpopular domestically, and its actual territorial control is minimal. There are no effective political parties, and the political process is driven largely by clan loyalty. A draft constitution was completed in July 2010 but had not been adopted by the end of the year. Corruption in Somalia is rampant, and UN monitors have reported extensive graft at all levels of the TFG. Since 1991, the northwestern region of Somaliland has functioned with relative stability as a self-declared independent state, though it has not received international recognition. The autonomous region of Puntland, in the northeastern corner of the country, has not sought full independence, declaring only a temporary secession until Somalia is stabilized. Relations between Puntland and the TFG sharply deteriorated in 2010, due in part to frustration with the underrepresentation of Puntland interests in Mogadishu.

Civil Liberties: Although Somalia's Transitional Federal Charter calls for freedom of speech and the press, these rights are quite limited in practice. Journalists continued to face dangerous conditions in 2010. Militants seized control of two Mogadishu-based radio stations, and a reporter with Horseed FM was jailed for six years for interviewing a warlord accused of supplying arms to the Shabaab. A number of other journalists were killed during the year. Islam is recognized as the official religion, and nearly all Somalis are Sunni Muslims, but there is a very small Christian community. Freedom of assembly is not respected amid the ongoing violence, and the largely informal economy is inhospitable to organized labor. The conflict has forced the nongovernmental organizations and UN agencies operating in Somalia to either reduce or suspend their activities. There is no judicial system functioning effectively at the national level. In many regions, local authorities administer a mix of Sharia (Islamic law) and traditional Somali forms of justice and reconciliation. While the TFG made some efforts to promote human rights, these initiatives had little effect on the ground, where the rights of Somali citizens are routinely abused by the various warring factions. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that there were 1.5 million internally displaced people by year's end, and an estimated 500,000 others taking refuge in neighboring countries. Women in Somalia face considerable discrimination. Female genital mutilation is still practiced in some form on nearly all Somali girls, and sexual violence is rampant.

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