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The Worst of the Worst 2012 - Somalia

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 4 July 2012
Cite as Freedom House, The Worst of the Worst 2012 - Somalia, 4 July 2012, available at: [accessed 24 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: 9,900,000
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 Review2002200320042005200620072008200920102011

2011 Key Developments: In 2011, a crippling drought in the Horn of Africa converged with continuing insecurity, the lack of an effective central government, and gaps in international aid to put 4 million people in need of emergency assistance in Somalia and created famine conditions in the parts of the south controlled by the main insurgent group, the Shabaab. In June, the international community reluctantly agreed to extend the mandate of the weak Transitional Federal Government (TFG) for another year. After African Union peacekeepers ousted the Shabaab from Mogadishu in August, the group responded by launching its most deadly bomb attack on the capital to date in October.

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 2011. 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 declared a temporary secession until Somalia is stabilized, although calls for full independence have been on the rise. Relations between Puntland and the TFG remained poor in 2011, due in part to frustration with the underrepresentation of Puntland interests in Mogadishu. Corruption in Somalia is rampant, and UN monitors have reported extensive graft at all levels of the TFG.

Civil Liberties: Although Somalia's Transitional Federal Charter calls for freedom of speech and the press, these rights are quite limited in practice. Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. In September 2011, a Malaysian journalist reporting on the famine was shot and killed, and a colleague injured, when the convoy they were travelling in came under fire from AU troops. In December, Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan of Horn Cable TV was shot in the head by a gunman in military uniform while driving through central Mogadishu. 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. The transitional assembly passed a law to implement Sharia (Islamic law) in 2009, but the government has been unable to apply the legislation. In practice, authorities administer a mix of Sharia and traditional Somali forms of justice and reconciliation. The harshest codes are enforced in areas under the control of the Shabaab, where people convicted of theft or other minor crimes are flogged or have their limbs amputated, usually in public. The rights of Somali citizens are routinely abused by the various warring factions. Although outlawed, female genital mutilation is still practiced in some form on nearly all Somali girls. Sexual violence is rampant due to lawlessness and impunity for perpetrators, and rape victims are often stigmatized. While the transitional charter stipulates that women should make up at least 12 percent of the transitional assembly, but there are currently just 37 women among the 550 lawmakers.

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