Country Reports on Human Rights Practices -
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
March 11, 2008
- SOURCE: U.S Deparment of State
Somalia has an estimated population of 8.5 million. The territory, which was
recognized as the Somali state from 1960 to 1991, was fragmented into regions
led in whole or in part by three distinct entities: the Transitional Federal
Institutions, with the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) in Baidoa, and the
presidency and most of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu;
the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in the northwest; and the
semi-autonomous region of Puntland in the northeast. The TFG was formed in late
2004, with a five-year transitional mandate to establish permanent,
representative government institutions following national elections scheduled
for 2009. A political process to establish peace and stability in the country
continued; however, significant problems remained. Ethiopian National Defense
Forces (ENDF) entered the country in December 2006 at the request of the TFG to
combat the Council of Islamic Courts and its associated armed militants, who had
captured Mogadishu and were expanding control in south central Somalia. During
the year the ENDF remained in south central Somalia, and an influx of weapons
and small arms to all parties contributed to the conflict. Fighting between
TFG/ENDF forces and their militias against antigovernment forces and extremist
elements increased and resulted in widespread human rights abuses, including the
killing of more than 1,000 civilians, the displacement of approximately 700,000
persons, and widespread property damage, particularly in Mogadishu. The larger
clans had armed militias at their disposal, and personal quarrels and clan
disputes frequently escalated into killings. Targeted assassinations, once rare,
became frequent. Suicide and roadside bombings, previously unheard of, regularly
occurred. Civilian authorities did not maintain effective control of the
security forces in any area of the country, although elected civilian
authorities in Somaliland and Puntland maintained some control over security
forces in their respective regions.
The country's poor human rights situation deteriorated further during the
year, exacerbated by the absence of effective governance institutions and the
rule of law, the widespread availability of small arms and light weapons, and
ongoing conflicts. As a consequence citizens were unable to change their
government. Human rights abuses included unlawful and politically motivated
killings; kidnapping, torture, rape, and beatings; official impunity; harsh and
life-threatening prison conditions; and arbitrary arrest and detention. In part
due to the absence of functioning institutions, the perpetrators of human rights
abuses were rarely punished. Denial of 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 rapes; female genital mutilation (FGM); child abuse;
recruitment of child soldiers; trafficking in persons; abuse and discrimination
against clan and religious minorities; restrictions on workers' rights; forced
labor, including by children; and child labor were also problems.
Members of antigovernment and extremist organizations like al-Shabaab, some
of whose members were affiliated with al-Qa'ida, committed numerous human rights
violations, including killings of TFG members and civilians; kidnappings and
disappearances; restrictions on freedom of movement; displacement of civilians;
and attacks on journalists and human rights activists.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
Fighting between TFG/ENDF forces and antigovernment groups resulted in more
than 1,000 civilian deaths in south central Somalia, particularly Mogadishu;
political killings and assassinations also occurred (see section 1.g.).
Politically motivated killings by antigovernment groups and extremist
elements resulted in the deaths of approximately 30 senior TFG officials (see
Prominent peace activists, clan elders, and their family members became
targets and were either killed or injured for their role in peace-building. In
March gunmen killed Issa Abdi Issa, a prominent Kismayo peace activist who was
attending a workshop in Mogadishu. Like all previous killings of peace
activists, the perpetrators were not arrested by year's end.
The government summarily executed persons during the year. For example, in
July two former members of the TFG forces were executed at a police station in
Hamar Jajab district for killing a TFG police officer at Ex Control Point Balad
two months prior. Unconfirmed reports indicated that one of the men was executed
for assisting anti-TFG militia.
Use of excessive force by government forces, TFG militia, and ENDF troops
resulted in the deaths of demonstrators during the year (see section 2.b.).
Throughout the year government and ENDF forces and security forces killed
street children. In at least two incidents, militia members or soldiers shot and
killed shoe-shine boys in disputes over payment. In July TFG militia reportedly
attacked and beat a 13-year-old boy on his way to a madrassa.
Former prime minister Ali Mohamed Gedi survived three attacks by suicide
bombers, but several persons near him were killed. In June a suicide bomber
rammed a vehicle loaded with explosives through the security gate of the prime
minister's Mogadishu home, killing six of his bodyguards; the prime minister was
unhurt. In October, in Baidoa, a suspected suicide bomber detonated his car next
to the hotel where Gedi was staying; two persons were killed.
Several deaths resulted from random shootings by Islamic extremists trying to
impose strict social edicts. For example, a May explosion at a cinema hall in
Bardera resulted in the deaths of three adults and two children. In June five
persons were killed in a Baidoa cinema after Islamic extremists lobbed an
explosive device inside the hall.
There were several killings of high-profile actors by unknown assailants. For
example, in October gunmen killed General Ahmed Jiliow, head of the National
Security Service (NSS) in the previous government of Siad Barre, and two of
During the year eight journalists and media owners were killed, generally by
unknown assailants (see section 2.a.).
Attacks on humanitarian workers, NGO employees, and foreign peacekeepers
resulted in deaths during the year (see section 4).
During the year an estimated hundreds of civilians were killed in inter- or
intra-clan militia clashes. Killings resulted from clan militias fighting for
political power and control of territory and resources, revenge reprisals;
criminal activities and banditry; private disputes over property and marriage;
and revenge vendettas after such incidents as rapes, family disagreements,
murders, and abductions. With the breakdown of law and order, very few of these
cases were investigated by the authorities, and there were few reports that
those cases resulted in formal action by the local justice system.
In April seven persons were killed and an estimated 15 injured in fighting
between Haber Gedir subclans of the Sa'ad and Saleban; fighting between the same
subclans in May resulted in 10 deaths and a dozen other persons injured. Also in
April, in Lower Juba, clashes between Darood subclans of the Marehan and
Majerten over revenue collection resulted in 12 deaths and 18 persons injured.
Clashes in June between the Marehan and Majerten over control of Kismayo
resulted in approximately 10 deaths and numerous injured.
No action was taken against the responsible members of the security forces or
militias who committed killings in 2006 or 2005, nor were there any developments
in the reported killings due to inter- or intra-clan fighting in prior years.
Landmines throughout the country resulted in numerous civilian deaths (see
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances, although cases
could be concealed due to the thousands of refugees and IDPs. Abduction was
common and generally used to extort ransom, as a tactic in clan disputes, or to
attain political ends. The UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Somalia
(UNIE) noted in its September 2006 report that the incidence of kidnapping
During the year there were a few kidnappings by militia groups and armed
assailants who demanded ransom for hostages. The majority of reported
kidnappings were in the southern regions, especially in Kismayo, where ransoms
allegedly funded purchases of weapons and ammunition. Foreign aid workers and
Non Governmental Organization (NGO) workers were kidnapped during the year (see
Maritime piracy and the kidnapping of crews, especially along the eastern and
northeastern coasts, hampered humanitarian efforts to provide essential
commodities to thousands of IDPs in the country (see section 1.g.)
There were no investigations or action taken against the perpetrators of any
kidnappings during the year, nor were there any developments in the cases of
kidnappings from previous years.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Transitional Federal Charter (TFC) prohibits torture. The Puntland
Charter prohibits torture "unless sentenced by Islamic Shari'a courts in
accordance with Islamic law." However, there were reports of the use of torture
by the Puntland and Somaliland administrations and warring militiamen against
each other and against civilians. Observers believed that many incidents of
torture were not reported. The TFG, militias allied to the TFG, and various clan
militias across the country tortured and abused detainees. Unlike in the
previous year, there were no reports of public floggings; in 2006 such floggings
were frequently ordered by the Council of Islamic Courts.
Persons assembled at food distribution centers were killed and injured. In
March TFG-allied militias injured two elderly women when they shot into the air
to disperse a crowd gathered at a food distribution centre in Jilib, lower Juba.
Police raped women, and there continued to be reports of rape by militias,
which used rape to punish and intimidate rivals. Rape was commonly perpetrated
in inter-clan conflicts.
There were no reports of action taken against Somaliland or Puntland forces,
warlord supporters, or members of militias responsible for torturing, beating,
raping, or otherwise abusing persons in 2006 or 2005. There also was no action
taken against members of the defunct Council of Islamic Courts for torture and
abuse committed in 2006.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions remained harsh and life-threatening in all regions of the
country. The main Somaliland prison in Hargeisa, designed for 150 inmates, held
more than 700 prisoners. Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, lack of access
to health care, and inadequate food and water persisted in prisons throughout
the country. Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and pneumonia were widespread. Abuse by
guards was common. Detainees' clans generally were expected to pay the costs of
detention. In many areas prisoners depended on food received from family members
or from relief agencies.
TFG-allied militias, antigovernment groups, extremist elements, warlords, and
clan leaders reportedly ran their own detention centers, in which conditions
were harsh and guards frequently abused detainees. Human rights organizations
and civil society leaders in Mogadishu reported the existence of makeshift
prisons in Mogadishu where large numbers of prisoners were held during and after
heavy fighting in March and April.
In prisons and detention centers, juveniles frequently were held with adults.
The incarceration of juveniles at the request of families who wanted their
children disciplined continued to be a major problem. Female prisoners were
separated from males; however, particularly in south central Somalia, pretrial
detainees were not necessarily separated from convicted prisoners.
The Puntland administration permitted prison visits by independent monitors.
An agreement between Somaliland and the UN Development Program (UNDP) allows for
the monitoring of prison conditions. There were no visits by the International
Committee of the Red Cross to prisons in Somaliland during the year, but a
Prisons Conditions Management Committee organized by the UNDP and comprised of
medical doctors, government officials, and civil society representatives,
visited five of the 11 prisons in Somaliland in 2006.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
In the absence of enforced constitutional or other legal protections, the
TFG, militias allied to it, and various clan militias across the country
continued to engage in arbitrary arrest and detention, and there was no system
of due process. Though precise figures were unobtainable, local human rights
organizations and some international organizations claimed that by the end of
June, TFG and ENDF forces had arrested up to 10,000 persons, most of whom were
quickly released. However, approximately 3,000 were detained for longer periods
in up to eight detention facilities and allegedly subjected to beatings,
mistreatment, and torture. The August Human Rights Watch report stated that
released individuals described serious abuses by TFG and ENDF forces against
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The police were generally ineffective, underpaid, and corrupt. With the
possible exception of approximately 2,000 UN-trained police known as the Somali
Police Unit, members of the TFG titular police forces throughout the country
often directly participated in politically based conflict and owed their
positions largely to clan and familial linkages to government authorities. There
were continued allegations that TFG security officials were responsible for
extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate firing on civilians, arbitrary arrest and
detention, rape, extortion, looting, and harassment.
In Somaliland an estimated 60 percent of the budget was allocated to maintain
a militia and police force comprised of former soldiers. Abuses by police and
militia members were rarely investigated, and impunity was a problem. Police
generally failed to prevent or respond to societal violence.
In May more than 800 Puntland militia members, who were employed as
Puntland's security force, reportedly abandoned their posts in protest over
unpaid wages. In July police from Bossaso erected a roadblock to protest not
Arrest and Detention
Judicial systems were not well established, were not based upon codified law,
did not function, or simply did not exist in most of the country. The country's
previously codified law requires warrants based on sufficient evidence issued by
authorized officials for the apprehension of suspects; prompt judicial
determinations; prompt access to lawyers and family members; and other legal
protections for the detained. However, adherence to these procedural safeguards
was rare. There was no functioning bail system or the equivalent.
Arbitrary arrest was a problem in southern and central Somalia, Somaliland,
Authorities in each region arbitrarily arrested journalists during the year
(see section 2.a.). TFG forces also arrested NGO and UN employees during the
year (see section 4.).
TFG-allied militia, who were not paid wages, arrested persons at random and
demanded "bail" from their family members as a condition for their release,
according to international and local NGOs.
TFG police often detained persons without charge. For example, in June TFG
forces arrested without charge Haji Abdi Imam, a key leader of the Hawiye
Traditional and Unity Council who openly opposed the TFG; Imam was released two
During the year there were also reports of politically motivated arrests. For
example, in September Yusuf Ali Harun, the TFG's chief justice, and Justice
Mohamed Nur were arrested by the NSS on orders from Abdullahi Barre, the
attorney general. At year's end, Harun and Nur remained in detention on charges
of corruption and misuse of office. During the year there were reports that
arrested persons were sometimes held for extended periods while awaiting trial.
Militias and factions held pretrial detainees without charge and for lengthy
During and following the December 2006 fighting inside Somalia, authorities
in Somalia arrested and detained numerous persons accused of terrorism and
support for the former Islamic Courts. Authorities in Kenya subsequently
arrested other suspected terrorists after they fled Somalia for Kenya. According
to media reports and human rights NGOs, some of those detained were released,
while others were transferred without judicial process to Ethiopia, where they
remained in secret detention at year's end. In May Ethiopian authorities
acknowledge that 41 suspected foreign terrorists were being held and
investigated, though most were released by year's end.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The TFC provides for an independent judiciary, but there was no functioning
judicial system for the TFG to administer. The TFC outlines a five-year
transitional process that includes the drafting of a new constitution to replace
the 1990 constitution; however, for many issues not addressed in the charter,
the former constitution still applies in principle.
The TFC provides for a high commission of justice, a supreme court, a court
of appeal, and courts of first reference; however, no such courts existed. Some
regions established local courts that depended on the predominant local clan and
associated factions for their authority. The judiciary in most areas relied on
some combination of elements from traditional and customary law, Shari'a, and
the penal code of the pre-1991 government.
The Somaliland Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however,
the judiciary was not independent in practice. The Somaliland constitution is
based on democratic principles, but the region continued to use pre-1991 laws.
There was a serious lack of trained judges and of legal documentation in
Somaliland. Untrained police and other unqualified persons reportedly served as
judges. The UNIE reported in 2006 that local officials often interfered with
legal matters and that the Public Order Law in Somaliland was often used to
detain and imprison persons without trial.
The Puntland Charter provides for an independent judiciary; however, the
judiciary was not independent in practice. The charter also provides for a
Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and courts of first instance.
Clans and subclans frequently used traditional justice, which was swift. For
example, in August Mohamed Madei, a member of the Galje'el subclan, was publicly
executed for a killing allegedly committed by his uncle against a Marehan man in
accordance with an execution agreement between the two subclans. In October
Garane Noor Mohamed was publicly put to death in Kismayo by agreement of Sade
clan elders the day after he allegedly killed a policeman in downtown Kismayo.
In August Horarsame Marehan subclan elders apprehended and handed over one of
their kin for execution to the elders of the Rer-Ahmed Marehan subclan for
allegedly killing a Rer-Ahmed Marehan subclan member. Traditional judgments
sometimes held entire opposing clans or sub clans responsible for alleged
violations by individuals.
The TFC provides for the right to be represented by counsel. That right and
the right to appeal did not exist in those areas that applied traditional and
customary practices or Shari'a.
In Somaliland and Puntland, the rights to be represented by counsel and to
appeal were more often respected. Authorities in those regions did not recognize
the TFC and continued to apply the law of a regional constitution or charter, as
well as the former government's laws.
In Puntland clan elders resolved the majority of cases using traditional
methods; those with no clan representation in Puntland, however, were subject to
the administration's judicial system.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees, although some
arrests and detentions appeared to be politically motivated.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
The inability of the judiciary to handle civil cases involving such matters
as defaulted loans or contract disputes encouraged clans to take matters into
their own hands and led to increased inter-clan conflict. With the breakdown of
the rule of law and the lack of a coherent legal system or effective government,
individuals were not afforded adequate protection or recourse.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The TFC provides for the sanctity of private property and privacy; however,
looting, land seizure, and forced entry into private property continued in
Mogadishu and elsewhere with impunity. The Puntland Charter and the Somaliland
Constitution recognize the right to private property; however, authorities did
not generally respect this right in practice.
In August, near K4 junction in Mogadishu, four persons dressed in TFG
military uniforms carjacked a vehicle belonging to the deputy chairman of the
National Reconciliation Congress (NRC) (see section 3.).
g. Use of Excessive Force and Other Abuses in Internal Conflicts
Fighting during the year between TFG/ENDF troops, extremist elements, and
antigovernment groups in south central Somalia resulted in the deaths of at
least 1,000 persons. An estimated 5,000 others were injured, and 700,000
civilians were displaced as a result of conflict during the year. All parties to
the conflict employed indiscriminate lethal tactics. Antigovernment and
extremist groups, including al Shabaab, were accused of launching mortar attacks
from hidden sites within civilian populated areas, and using civilians as human
shields. In addition, such groups reportedly conducted suicide bombings, used
landmines and remote controlled roadside bombs, and conducted targeted killings
of journalists and civil society leaders. TFG/ENDF forces often responded to
such attacks with disproportionate force and indiscriminate shelling of civilian
populated areas where antigovernment and extremist groups attacks. Human Rights
Watch accused all parties to the conflict of indiscriminate attacks, deployment
of forces in densely populated areas, and a failure to take steps to minimize
civilian harm. As a result they destroyed homes, hospitals, schools, mosques,
and other infrastructure in Mogadishu. Since the collapse of the government in
1991, tens of thousands of persons, mostly noncombatants, have died in
inter-clan and intra-clan fighting. No action was generally taken against those
persons responsible for the violence.
In its August report, Human Rights Watch documented numerous killings
including summary executions of civilians by members of the ENDF, TFG forces,
and antigovernment and extremist groups. Roadside bombings, suicide attacks, and
armed raids targeting TFG officials and sympathizers as well as civil society
groups continued throughout the year. Antigovernment and extremist groups were
responsible for numerous killings of government officials and police.
Politically motivated killings by antigovernment groups resulted in the deaths
of approximately 30 senior TFG officials and members of the Banadir regional
administration, including district commissioners and their deputies, and
security and court officials. At least nine district or deputy district
commissioners in and around Mogadishu were targeted by armed gunmen, bombs, or
remote-controlled explosive devices between February and July alone. In March
masked assailants shot and killed Abdinasir Mohamed Serjito, a former army
captain who was supportive of the TFG. In June two gunmen killed Hussien Omar,
the Shibis district commissioner, and in August assailants killed Moalin Harun,
an NRC delegate. None of the assailants were identified by year's end.
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for several attacks against the TFG and its
supporters during the year.
During the March-April fighting in Mogadishu, antigovernment groups summarily
executed several TFG prisoners of war and dragged there charred bodies through
During the year security forces killed persons waiting for food aid. For
example, in Galkayo, security guards opened fire at a car speeding toward a food
distribution center; one man was killed, and another was injured. Also in June,
TFG security forces opened fire on a crowd waiting for food aid in Mogadishu; at
least five persons were killed, including a pregnant woman. In September TFG
forces reportedly killed five persons after opening fire at a food aid
distribution center in Afgoye. No action was taken against security officials
responsible for civilian deaths during the year.
In August ENDF soldiers killed six civilians and injured 26 after they opened
fire on a passenger bus they believed was transporting insurgents; six of the
injured later died.
In May a roadside bomb killed four and wounded five Ugandan troops
participating in the African Union's Peace Support Mission. The incident
followed an earlier attack, which resulted in the deaths of two other Ugandan
Landmines throughout the country resulted in human and livestock casualties,
denial of grazing and arable land, and road closures. The UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF) reported a proliferation of mines and ordnance during the year and the
number of deaths and injuries due to landmines significantly increased over
2006. Antipersonnel and antivehicle landmines, most of them remotely controlled,
were frequently deployed by antigovernment groups against TFG forces, ENDF
troops, and civilians.
For example, in August unknown persons planted a remotely controlled
explosive device to target Ali Sharmake, director of Horn Afrik Media and a
prominent peace activist. The device detonated and killed Shamarke as he
returned from the funeral of his colleague Mahad Ahmed Elmi, who was gunned down
only hours earlier (see section 2.a.).
Attacks and incidents of harassment against humanitarian, religious, and NGO
workers resulted in numerous deaths.
Numerous children were killed while playing with unexploded ordnance. In May,
in Daynile, two children died and three others were injured while playing with
suspected antiaircraft ammunition they found in the trash. In July five children
were killed while en route to a mosque when one of the children disturbed an
unexploded ordnance. In August, in Bakol region, two children were killed and
three were critically injured while playing with a grenade that exploded. Police
officers also were killed by landmines. In August three TFG police were injured
when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb near Villa Somalia. Nearby security
forces opened fire in response, killing four civilians. In October two persons
were killed and nine others wounded in Kismayo, among them the spokesman for the
Sade subclans, when a landmine destroyed the car they were traveling in.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture
According to a report of the UN Monitoring Group for the Somalia Arms
Embargo, on April 13, Ethiopian forces used white phosphorus bombs against an
antigovernment group, resulting in the deaths of 35 civilians. Ethiopian forces
denied they had used such weaponry.
Landmines injured numerous persons. In May a hand grenade accidentally
exploded in Jilib, seriously injuring three children. The children were
reportedly playing with the device before it exploded. In October two TFG police
were injured when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
The recruitment and use of children in militias and other fighting forces was
a longstanding practice in the country and continued during the year. Children
continued to be recruited into militias on both sides of the conflict by the TFG
and its related forces, as well as by clan militias and antigovernment groups.
This recruitment was on occasion forced. Local human rights organizations
reported that antigovernment groups paid children $20 (400,000 Somali shillings)
to lob grenades and other explosives at TFG-allied militias and international
In July the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
called on all parties to stop recruiting children and demobilize those serving
as soldiers. In some administrations in Somalia, like that of Jowhar,
authorities committed to demobilize child soldiers with UNICEF's assistance.
The TFG pledged to address the issue of child recruitment when ministers
signed the Paris Commitments in February; however, all parties to the conflict
continued to recruit child soldiers during the year, including the TFG. UNICEF
implemented a public outreach program with radio broadcasts to highlight the
problem of child soldiers.
The Somaliland Constitution contains no minimum age for recruitment into the
armed forces, but there were no reports of minors in its forces; however, an
inadequate system of birth registration made it difficult to establish the exact
age of recruits.
Other Conflict Related Abuses
Security problems complicated the work of local and international
organizations, especially in the south. Attacks on NGOs, looting, and piracy
disrupted flights and food distribution during the year. As a result of threats
and harassment, some organizations evacuated their staffs or halted relief food
distribution and other aid related activities.
Between January and October, pirates conducted nine successful hijackings and
seven unsuccessful attacks on vessels along the Somali coast. Following ransom
payments that in some cases reached several hundred thousand dollars, five of
the nine hijacked vessels were released. In each instance, crews were held
hostage until ransom was paid. Three vessels charted by the World Food Program
(WFP) were hijacked, and a fourth was fired upon.
After heavy fighting in Mogadishu in March and April, the TFG minister of
interior accused the WFP of distributing expired food and halted the
distribution of relief food to the tens of thousands of IDPs scattered along
roads on the outskirts of Mogadishu. The mayor of Mogadishu said that the
largely female and minor IDPs were family members of terrorists and should not
be assisted. TFG officials demanded that humanitarian agencies operating in the
country register with the government and imposed new visa rules on all
foreigners causing unnecessary delays in humanitarian interventions.
In May armed militia hijacked a vehicle belonging to a local NGO in Jidali.
Clan elders apprehended the culprits and handed them over to the police.
In March assailants lobbed a hand grenade at the offices of an international
NGO in Bay region, injuring one of the guards. Also in March attackers detonated
a remote controlled roadside bomb against a UN convoy in Afgoye, injuring four
personnel and damaging one of the cars in the convoy. In April a convoy hired to
deliver humanitarian aid supplies was attacked in Gedo region by militia from a
subclan of the Marehan, resulting in the deaths of a driver and passenger.
In April four WFP employees distributing food in Buale area were ordered to
leave the area by a local elder, who then allegedly conspired with local
contractors to divert part of the food aid shipment.
In October NSS officers forced their way into the UN compound in Mogadishu
and removed and detained the WFP Officer in Charge Idris Osman. The TFG claimed
Osman was under investigation for unspecified crimes. The UN subsequently closed
all its offices in Mogadishu. Osman was released in late October after
considerable international pressure. During the same month the German NGO Agro
Action closed down operations in Somaliland due to heightened instability and
conflict in the Sool region bordering Puntland.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The TFC and the Somaliland Constitution provide for freedom of speech and
press. However, there were instances of harassment, arrest, and detention of
journalists in all regions of the country, including Puntland and Somaliland.
The Puntland Charter provides for press freedom "as long as they respect the
law"; however, this right was not respected in practice. Freedom House ranked
the country as "not free" every year from 1972 to 2007. Reporters Without
Borders also gave the country a low rating for press freedom. Journalists
engaged in rigorous self-censorship in order to avoid reprisals.
In September the leader of the opposition Ramaas political party was arrested
and held for 12 days in Puntland for leading a demonstration against the
political situation in Puntland.
The print media consisted largely of short, photocopied dailies published in
the larger cities and often affiliated with one of the factions. Several of
these dailies were nominally independent and published criticism of prominent
persons and political leaders.
In Somaliland there were six independent daily newspapers: Jamhuuriya,
Haatuf, Ogaal, Geeska, Saxansaxo, and Maalmaha. There was also one government
daily, Maandeeq, and two English language weeklies, Somaliland Times and the
Republic. There were two independent television stations, Hargeysa TV and
Hargeysa Cable TV, and one government-owned station, Somaliland National TV.
Although the Somaliland constitution permits establishment of independent media,
the Somaliland government has consistently prohibited the establishment of
independent FM stations. The only FM station in Somaliland is the
government-owned Radio Hargeysa.
Most citizens obtained news from foreign radio broadcasts, primarily the BBC,
which transmitted a daily Somali-language program. There were reportedly eight
FM radio stations and one short-wave station operating in Mogadishu. A radio
station funded by local businessmen operated in the south, as did several other
small FM stations in various towns in the central and southern parts of the
country. There were at least a half dozen independent radio stations in Puntland
and one government‑owned FM radio station in Somaliland. In February the Voice
of America Somali Service began Somali-language daily broadcasts.
Opposition elements, many affiliated with the ousted Council of Islamic
courts and other extremists, continued to harass journalists. Journalists
reported that antigovernment groups threatened to kill them if they did not
report on antigovernment attacks conducted by al-Shabaab. Journalists added that
publishing criticism of the opposition ingratiated them with the TFG, but
subjected them to opposition threats, and vice versa.
Journalists and media organizations in all regions reported harassment
including killings, kidnappings, detention without charge, and assaults on
persons and property. Most of the experienced field reporters and senior editors
have fled the country due to direct threats from both the TFG security forces
and antigovernment groups. On December 16 unknown gunmen in Boosaaso kidnapped
French journalist Gwen Le Gouil. Numerous journalists were arrested and detained
in all regions of the country. In Baidoa and Mogadishu, the TFG continued to
enforce strict orders against reporting or photographing ENDF security
There were eight targeted killings of journalists and media managers or
owners, compared to one such killing in 2006. In February such Ali Mohammed
Omar, a presenter on Radio Warsan in Baidoa, was killed by three assailants as
he walked home. In May Mohamed Abdullahi Khalif of Voice of Peace Radio was
killed in Puntland. In May Radio Jowhar journalists Abshir Ali Gabra and Ahmed
Hasan were killed in the Middle Shabelle Region while accompanying the
newly-appointed TFG regional governor on a familiarization trip. Also in August
unknown gunmen killed Mahad Ahmed Elmi, head of Mogadishu-based Capital Voice, a
sister radio station of HornAfrik Radio. Only hours after Elmi's burial, Ali
Iman Sharmake, director and co-owner of HornAfrik Radio, was killed by a
roadside bomb; journalists Sahal Abdulle from Reuters and Falastin Ahmed from
VOA were slightly injured in the explosion. In late August Abdulkadir Mahad
Kaskey of Mogadishu-based Radio Banadir was killed when unknown gunmen opened
fire on a minibus in which he was traveling in the southwestern region of Gedo.
In October Bashir Nur Gedi, acting Head of Shabelle Media Group, was killed
outside his home in Mogadishu. There were no arrests in connection with any
killings of journalists during the year.
There have been no arrests or developments in the case of Martin Adler, a
foreign journalist and photographer who was shot and killed while covering a
demonstration in Mogadishu in June 2006.
Numerous journalists were arrested and detained during the year. In January
Somaliland authorities arrested journalists Yusuf Abdi Gabobe and Ali Abdi Dini
at the offices of Haatuf Media Network in Hargeysa. The police originally came
to arrest Dini and investigative reporter Muhamad Rashid Farah, who escaped.
Later in January security forces arrested Haatuf correspondent Mohammed Omar
Sheikh Ibrahim. In March, at Mandera Prison, trials took place against the three
detained journalists and the fugitive Farah; their lawyers failed to appear.
Gabobe was sentenced to two years in prison, Dini and Ibrahim to 29 months, and
Farah was sentenced in absentia to 29 months. Amnesty International
characterized the imprisoned journalists as "prisoners of conscience" and
declared their arrest and trial a clear violation of human rights. Following
local and international pressure, the government released the three journalists
in late March. In March Hasan Sade Daqane of Radio HornAfrik and Abdirahman
Yusuf Al-Adala, from Shabelle Media Network, were detained by the TFG in
Mogadishu for two weeks before being released. In April TFG security forces
arrested Universal TV crew members Abdulkadir Nadara, Bashir Naleye, and Hamid
Mohamed, who were held for 40 days and released after significant international
There were no developments in the 2006 or 2005 cases in which journalists
were harassed or arrested.
Several broadcasting stations were closed during the year. For example, in
January the TFG closed three radio stations in Mogadishu: HornAfrik, Shabelle
Media Network, and Holy Koran Media Station. In October TFG security forces
closed Radio Simba after it conducted a telephone interview with a former
Islamist leader. The radio was later allowed to resume operations, but one of
its staff and two other journalists were arrested in November and remained in
jail at year's end.
In April HornAfrik Media house was hit by seven mortar shells, injuring four
of the station's staff and forcing the station temporarily off the air.
In October TFG Information Minister Madobe Nunow Mohamed notified local and
international NGO's and other organizations that NGOs would no longer be allowed
to act on behalf of media organizations and that all media activity would be
conducted through the Ministry of Information; however, Madobe's notice to NGOs
was neither implemented nor enforced, and the minister lost his position when
the government of Prime Minister Gedi fell at year's end.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet, but
opposition elements in Mogadishu reportedly closely monitored Internet use and
were believed to be the authors of anonymous e-mail threats to local
journalists. Internet use was widespread in both rural and urban areas.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were two universities in Mogadishu, two in Somaliland, and one in
Puntland; however, there was no organized higher education system in most of the
country. There were restrictions on academic freedom, and academicians practiced
self-censorship. In Puntland a government permit was required before conducting
Unlike in the previous year, when the Council of Islamic Courts controlled
much of south central Somalia, there were no restrictions on attending cultural
events, playing music, or going to the cinema, although the security situation
effectively restricted access to cultural events.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Freedom of Assembly
The TFC and the Somaliland Constitution provide for freedom of assembly;
however, a ban on demonstrations continued, and the lack of security effectively
limited this right in many parts of the country. Use by security personnel of
excessive force to disperse demonstrators resulted in numerous deaths and
In January TFG forces shot into a crowd of approximately 100 demonstrators,
killing one person and injuring another. The protestors had staged violent
demonstrations in Beletweyne against the ENDF's arrest of Colonel Mukhtar, the
Hiran regional commander; Mukhtar had refused to arrest Sheikh Farah Moalim, a
former chairman of the Council of the Islamic Courts.
In the same month ENDF forces in Mogadishu opened fire on a group of
demonstrators, killing five and injuring seven. The demonstrators, who had set
bonfires and hurled stones, were protesting the TFG's call for disarmament.
Also in January, Somaliland authorities arrested four students who were
peacefully demonstrating against the arrest of the three Haatuf journalists
arrested earlier in the same month. The students were detained in Mandera Prison
and then sentenced to six months' imprisonment after a secret emergency court
hearing in Hargeysa. The students were denied the right to appeal the sentence.
In February Ali Dool Ahmed, a writer, and Bo'aud, an activist, were arrested for
distributing leaflets demanding the release of the same three journalists.
In October Somaliland forces allegedly used excessive force to disperse
demonstrators opposed to their military presence in Las Anod.
The use of excessive force, by security forces in south central Somalia,
resulted in the deaths and injuries of persons assembled at food distribution
Freedom of Association
The TFC provides for freedom of association; however, the TFG did not respect
freedom of association during the year. The Puntland Charter provides for
freedom of association; however, the Puntland administration continued to ban
all political parties.
In May, in the Sanaag region, Puntland police reportedly arrested six persons
for demonstrating in support of Somaliland. Police subsequently fired warning
shorts at relatives of those arrested, who had gathered at police station.
The Somaliland Constitution provides for freedom of association, and this
right was generally respected in practice; however, in July Somaliland
authorities arrested three opposition politicians who were planning to form a
new political party. In July the Somaliland minister of interior warned that any
person from Somaliland who participated in the NRC in Mogadishu would be accused
of treason and punished. Police were instructed to monitor the borders for such
Legislation governing the formation of political parties in Somaliland limits
the number of parties allowed to contest general elections to three. An ad hoc
commission nominated by the president and approved by the legislature was
responsible for considering applications. The law provides that approved parties
obtaining 20 percent of the vote are allowed to operate. There were three
approved political parties.
c. Freedom of Religion
There were no legal provisions for the protection of religious freedom, but
there were limits on religious freedom in practice. The TFC, Somaliland
Constitution, and Puntland Charter establish Islam as the official religion.
In Puntland, only Shafi'lyyah, a moderate Islamic doctrine followed by most
citizens, is allowed. Puntland security forces closely monitored religious
activities. Religious schools and places of worship must receive permission to
operate from the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs, but such permission
was granted routinely.
In Somaliland religious schools and places of worship must obtain the
Ministry of Religion's permission to operate. Proselytizing for any religion
except Islam is prohibited in Puntland and Somaliland and effectively blocked by
informal social consensus elsewhere in the country. Apart from restrictions
imposed by the security situation, Christian-based international relief
organizations generally operated freely as long as they refrained from
In May TFG forces confiscated face veils from women in Mogadishu and
subsequently burned the veils. TFG authorities stated that hooded criminals
disguised as women had participated in attacks against security forces, which
warranted banning of the face veil within the capital. Following a public
outcry, the mayor of Mogadishu denied any responsibility for the ban and called
for its immediate suspension.
In September police in Belet-Weyne reportedly arrested and detained an
estimated 15 persons found eating during the daytime at a local restaurant
during Ramadan. Those arrested were each ordered to pay $25 (34,000 Somali
Shillings) in fines.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
During the year, in the Bay and Lower Juba regions, suspected Muslim
extremists killed several prominent clerics. For example, in August, inside a
Mosque near Galkayo, gunmen shot and killed two Muslim clerics and seven members
of the congregation. Authorities in Galkayo blamed the attack on Islamic
extremists. In October, in Kismayu, unknown assailants shot and killed a
prominent moderate cleric moments after he led his congregation in the late
evening prayer. Also in October another prominent cleric of the
Ahlusunna-wal-Jama'a tabligh group was killed in Baidoa on his way to the
Suspected Islamic extremists bombed cinemas, resulting in death and injury.
Non-Sunni Muslims often were viewed with suspicion by members of the Sunni
majority. Non-Muslims who practiced their religion openly were sometimes
harassed. Although not legally prohibited, conversion from Islam to another
religion was socially unacceptable to the extent that conversion could lead to
harassment or even death. There has been anecdotal evidence that and those who
converted were harassed and sometimes killed.
The small Christian community kept a low profile. Christians, as well as
other non-Muslims who proclaim their religion, sometimes faced social
There is no known Jewish community in the country, and there were no reports
of anti-Semitic acts.
For a more detailed discussion, see the
2007 International Religious
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees,
and Stateless Persons
The TFC and the Puntland Charter provide for freedom of movement within the
country; however, this right continued to be restricted in some parts of the
country. Checkpoints operated by the TFG, TFG allied militias, and armed clan
factions inhibited passage and exposed travelers to looting, extortion, rape,
and harassment, particularly of civilians fleeing conflict. According to the UN,
there were 235 checkpoints in south and central Somalia, with 13 alone on the
road between Baidoa and Mogadishu. In the absence of effective governance
institutions, few citizens had the documents needed for international travel.
The law does not prohibit forced exile; however, none of the authorities used
forced exile during the year.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no organized repatriations to any
region of Somalia during the year.
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
Reliable figures for IDPs in the country were difficult to obtain, but UN
agencies estimated that by year's end approximately 700,000 persons had fled
their homes in Mogadishu and its surroundings as a result of the fighting
between TFG/ENDF forces and antigovernment groups. The Somalia office of the UN
High Commission Human Rights (UNHCR), based in Kenya, estimated that there were
approximately one million IDPs in the country as a result of internal conflict,
flooding, droughts, and other causes going back to the early 1990s.
The TFG did not provide protection or assistance for those IDPs residing in
Mogadishu. UN agencies reported that during the year persons identifying
themselves as TFG authorities and TFG-allied militias evicted IDPs from
makeshift shelters claiming the property belonged to the government. In the
process of eviction the IDPs were quite often robbed and harassed.
During the year there were a series of actions by Puntland authorities in
Galkayo and Garowe whereby Somalis from south central Somalia were forcefully
returned to their home areas. In August, authorities in Puntland are reported to
have forcefully relocated 59 people from Boosaaso to Galkayo. Those affected
claimed their possessions were confiscated by authorities. Approximately 43 of
the 59 were reportedly taken to destinations in south central regions, while the
remaining 16 persons were released and taken in by clan relations in Galkayo. In
July Puntland authorities reportedly segregated on arrival Somalis by clan who
had been deported from Saudi Arabia by plane. The plane carrying approximately
120 Somalis was allowed to land, but authorities only allowed those originally
from Puntland to disembark. The plane later landed in Hargeysa, Somaliland,
where authorities permitted the remaining passengers, most of whom were from
south central Somalia, to disembark.
Protection of Refugees
The 1990 constitution and TFC do not include provisions for granting asylum
or refugee status in accordance with the definition in the 1951 UN Convention
relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and there was no
official system for providing such protection. The authorities provided some
protection against "refoulement", the return of persons to a country where there
is reason to believe they feared persecution, and in practice the authorities
granted refugee status or asylum.
The authorities in Somaliland cooperated with the UNHCR and other
humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
In January the Kenyan government officially closed the border to all traffic
to and from Somalia, although it later allowed humanitarian relief supplies to
enter Somalia on a case-by-case basis. Despite the border closure an estimated
14,000 asylum seekers made their way to Dadaab refugee camps through the porous
There continued to be reports that Somali women, girls, and in isolated cases
men, were raped in refugee camps in Kenya during the year.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their
In the absence of effective governance institutions, citizens could not
exercise the right to change their government. The country was governed by an
internationally recognized, though unelected, TFG with a five-year mandate until
2009 to prepare the country for national elections. Clan leaders operated as de
facto rulers in most regions under the nominal control of the TFG. Although many
such leaders derived their authority from the traditional deference given to
clan elders, they often faced opposition from intra-clan groups and political
factions, as well as from the perceived central authority of the TFG.
Elections and Political Participation
The TFG was formed in late 2004 and early 2005 following two years of
negotiations in Kenya, which were led by the Intergovernmental Authority on
Development (. The TFC is the legal framework for the transitional federal
institutions of parliament and government, which operate under a five-year
mandate that expires in 2009. In 2004 the clan-based TFP elected Abdullahi Yusuf
Ahmed, the former president of Puntland, as transitional federal president, and
he then appointed Ali Mohammed Gedi as prime minister.
Following the TFG/ENDF defeat of the Council of Islamic Courts in late
December 2006, the government moved its base from Baidoa to Mogadishu; however,
the parliament remained in Baidoa. In January the TFP voted out Sharif Hassan
Sheikh Adan, the first speaker of the TFP, who had refused to return to
parliament since September 2006, when the TFG rejected his request to open
negotiations with the former Council of Islamic Courts. The Government of Kenya
expelled approximately 26 members who resided in Nairobi of the 275-member
Transitional Federal Parliament. Many went to Eritrea and Djibouti with former
speaker Hassan, while others went to Gulf states. In January parliament elected
Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur to serve as the speaker. As a result of the
deteriorating security situation, in January parliament passed a law on
emergency powers that allows the President to rule by decree; in July the
Speaker of Parliament announced the end of the emergency law.
In late January President Yusuf called for a National Reconciliation Congress
(NRC) to reconcile all Somali clans. The NRC was held July 15-August 30.
Although not all clans attended, the NRC confirmed broad support for the TFC,
continued reconciliation, and the transitional process to 2009. At year's end
the government had secured parliamentary approval to implement one of the NRC
recommendations, which called for the appointment of government ministers from
In March parliament issued a 30-day ultimatum to absentee members of
parliament (MPs) to attend parliamentary sessions or risk being fired. In April
the Speaker of Parliament dismissed 31 MPs who failed to attend parliamentary
proceedings before the expiry of the ultimatum period. In September ousted MPs
and significant elements from the ousted Council of Islamic Courts held a
conference in Asmara and formed a political organization called the Alliance for
the Re-liberation of Somalia (. In October Prime Minister Gedi resigned after a
series of disagreements with President Yusuf, bringing the TFG to a standstill.
In November President Yusuf appointed, and parliament approved Nur "Adde" Hassan
Hussein to be the second TFG prime minister. Hussein nominated and subsequently
dismissed his cabinet after parliamentary criticism. At year's end the prime
minister was consulting with MPs and the clans on the establishment of a new
Somaliland has a constitution and bicameral parliament with proportional clan
representation and an elected president and vice president. Somaliland
authorities have established functioning administrative institutions in
virtually all of the territory they claim, which is the same as the Somaliland
state that achieved international recognition briefly in 1960 before entering
into a union with the former Italian colony of Somalia. In a 2001 referendum, 97
percent of voters supported Somaliland independence.
In May 2006 President of Somaliland Dahir Riyale Kahin postponed elections
for the parliament's House of Elders and initiated a process to extend the
mandate of the upper house for four years. Opposition parties declared the
process illegal. In July authorities arrested three opposition politicians
planning to form a new political party. The opposition figures--Mohamed Abdi
Gaboose, Mohamed Hashi Elmi, and Jamal Aideed Ibrahim--were affiliated with the
Qaran political association and charged with founding an illegal organization
and creating instability. As of October they remained in detention. In October
the National Electoral Commission announced that local government and
presidential elections scheduled for December 2007 and April 2008 had been
postponed, respectively, to July and August 2008 by agreement of the three
official political parties.
In 1998 Puntland declared itself a semi-autonomous regional government during
a consultative conference with delegates from six regions who included
traditional community elders, the leadership of political organizations, members
of local legislative assemblies, regional administrators, and civil society
representatives. Puntland has a single-chamber quasi-legislative branch called
the Council of Elders, which has played a largely consultative role. Political
parties were banned. General Mohamud Muse Hersi was elected president by the
Puntland Parliament in January 2005. Some Puntland cabinet ministers had their
own militias, which contributed to a general lack of security.
Somaliland and Puntland continued to contest parts of Sanaag region, as well
as the Sool region and the Buhodle district of Togdheer region during the year.
Both governments maintained elements of their administrations in the Sanaag and
Sool regions, and both governments exerted influence in various communities.
During the year there were renewed hostilities in Las Anod, Sool region. In
September and October at various times pro-Puntland and pro-Somaliland militias
clashed in the Las Anod area resulting in an estimated 10 deaths and scores of
injured. Humanitarian aid agencies reported that approximately 9,000 families
(22,000-54,000 persons) were displaced by the fighting. Somaliland forces
captured Las Anod and at year's end they remained in control of the town with
Puntland forces threatening to retake it.
There were 23 women in the 275-seat TFP; the number fell short of the TFC
requirement that at least 12 percent of parliamentary seats be reserved for
women. The minister of health and the minister for gender and family affairs
were women, as were three deputy ministers. In the Somaliland government, a
woman held the post of gender and family minister, and two women were elected to
the lower house of parliament. There were four women in the 69-seat Puntland
Council of Elders, and a woman held the position of minister of gender and
There were 31 members of the minority Bantu or Arab ethnic groups in the TFP
and four in the TFG cabinet. There were no members of minority groups in the
Somaliland parliament and cabinet.
Government Corruption and Transparency
Official corruption was endemic throughout the country. There were no laws
providing for public access to government information.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated
throughout the country investigating and publishing their findings on human
rights cases. The Mogadishu-based Dr. Ismael Jumale Human Rights Center
(DIJHRC), Isha Baidoa Human Rights Organization in the Bay and Bakol regions,
KISIMA in Kismayo, and other local human rights groups were active during the
year. The DIJHRC investigated the causes of the continuing conflict in the
Mogadishu area and conducted human rights monitoring. The Mogadishu-based
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) continued to advocate for media
freedom throughout the country. The Mogadishu-based Center for Research and
Dialogue, several women's NGOs, and other civil society organizations also
played a role in promoting intra-clan dialogue, national reconciliation, and
dialogue between the TFG/Ethiopians and elders of the dominant Hawiye clan in
Somaliland human rights organizations accused authorities of meddling in its
internal affairs and promoting conflict among them. In October SHURONET, an
umbrella organization for human rights organizations in Somaliland, accused
authorities of supporting a parallel state-supported organization that convened
a workshop in the name of SHURONET. There were reports that Somaliland
authorities subsequently deported Livia Hadorn, a UNDP official in charge of
human rights activities in Hargeisa, for declining to provide funding for the
parallel government-convened workshop.
Attacks and incidents of harassment against humanitarian, religious, and NGO
workers resulted in numerous deaths. TFG officials accused NGOs and civil
society organizations of siding with opposition groups and exaggerating human
rights abuses committed by TFG forces. The TFG intimidated and arrested NGO
workers, who also received death threats from regional administrators, clan
militias, and criminals.
There were numerous occurrences of looting, hijacking, and attacks on convoys
of WFP and other humanitarian relief shipments during the year.
In May in the Boosaaso area gunmen kidnapped two foreign employees of CARE
International, who were subsequently released through the efforts of clan
elders. In June TFG forces arrested Raha Jinaqow, a well-known aid worker and
civil society activist, and raided the offices of her organization,
SAACID-Somalia. Jinaqow was released a day after her arrest following
international and local intervention on her behalf.
In August Puntland presidential guards allegedly fired at the car of a local
aid worker and assaulted and briefly detained him at the presidential villa.
In September gunmen killed a World Health Organization employee who was
conducting an immunization campaign in Mudug region.
In October, in Puntland, a group of armed bandits stopped a WFP team
traveling on a monitoring and evaluation mission at gunpoint and robbed them of
their belongings and communication equipment. According to the UN, there were no
investigations or arrests in connection with any of these cases.
In December 26, in Boosaaso port, unknown persons with machine guns seized
two foreign employees of Medecins Sans Frontieres when their car was ambushed.
In April the Somaliland Supreme Court upheld a lower court's conviction of
Jama Abdi Ismail and Mohamed Ali Isse, who were sentenced to death in November
2005 for the killing of four foreign aid workers in 2003 and 2004.
Section 5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The TFC prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or national origin;
however, societal discrimination and violence against women and widespread abuse
of children continued to be serious problems. The Somaliland Constitution
prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or national origin, but these
rights were not respected in practice.
Laws prohibiting rape exist; however, they were not generally enforced. There
were no laws against spousal rape. There were no reports that rape cases were
prosecuted during the year. NGOs documented patterns of rape of women with
impunity, particularly of women displaced from their homes due to civil conflict
or who were members of minority clans. Police and militia members engaged in
raped, and rape was commonly practiced in inter-clan conflicts. Traditional
approaches to dealing with rape tended to ignore the victim's situation and
instead communalized the resolution or compensation for rape through a
negotiation between members of the perpetrator's and victim's clans. Victims
suffered from subsequent discrimination based on attributions of "impurity."
Women and girls in IDP camps were especially vulnerable to sexual violence,
contributing to the spread of HIV/AIDS. Criminal elements attacked and raped
some IDPs fleeing from Mogadishu in March and April. In Somaliland there was an
increase in gang rape in urban areas, primarily by youth gangs, members of
police forces, and male students. Many of these cases occurred in poorer
neighborhoods and among immigrants, refugee returnees, and rural displaced
populations. Many cases were not reported.
Domestic violence against women remained a serious problem. There are no laws
specifically addressing domestic violence; however, both Shari'a and customary
law address the resolution of family disputes. No statistical information was
available on the extent of domestic violence. Sexual violence in the home was
reportedly a serious problem, linked to general gender discrimination. Women
have suffered disproportionately in the country's civil war and inter-clan
Prostitution is illegal and there were no statistics on its prevalence. In
the country's overwhelmingly patriarchal culture, women do not have the same
rights as men and are systematically subordinated. Polygamy was permitted. Under
laws issued by the former government, female children could inherit property,
but only half the amount to which their brothers were legally entitled.
Similarly, according to the Shari'a and local tradition of blood compensation,
anyone found guilty in the death of a woman must pay half the amount paid to the
aggrieved family if the victim was male.
Women's groups in Mogadishu, Hargeisa (Somaliland), Bossaso (Puntland), and
other towns actively promoted equal rights for women and advocated the inclusion
of women in responsible government positions, and observers reported some
improvement in the profile and political participation of women in the country.
Authorities were generally not committed to children's rights and welfare.
In the absence of a consistent central authority, births were not registered
in Puntland or southern and central Somalia. Birth registration was taken
seriously in Somaliland for hospital and home births; however, limited
government capacity combines with the nomadic lifestyle of many Somalis made
birth registration a complex undertaking.
An estimated 28 percent of the school-age population attended school,
according to a recent UNICEF school survey: 34 percent of boys and 22 percent of
girls. Due to the increased level of insecurity in Mogadishu, school enrollment
rates in the city dropped to 18-20 percent, a 50 percent reduction from 2006.
Since the collapse of the state in 1991, education services have been revived in
various forms, including: a traditional system of Koranic schools; public
primary and secondary school systems financed by communities, foreign donors,
and the administrations in Somaliland and Puntland; Islamic charity-run schools;
and a number of privately run primary and secondary schools, universities, and
vocational training institutes. Few children who entered primary school
completed secondary school. Schools at all levels lacked textbooks, laboratory
equipment, toilets, and running water. Teachers were poorly qualified and poorly
paid; many relied entirely on community support for payment. The literacy rate
was estimated at 25 percent. There was a continued influx of foreign teachers to
teach in private Koranic and Madrassa schools. These schools were inexpensive
and provided basic education; however, there were reports that they required
veiling of small girls and other conservative Islamic practices not
traditionally found in the local culture.
Child abuse was a serious problem, although no statistics on its prevalence
were available. A 2003 UNICEF report noted that nearly a third of all displaced
children reported rape as a problem within their family, compared to 17 percent
of children in the general population.
Children remained among the chief victims of continuing societal violence.
Child protection monitors verified that at least 40 children were killed or
wounded during the year as a direct result of conflict.
Militia members raped children during the conflict and departure of civilians
from Mogadishu. In May, for example, militias stopped a minibus at a checkpoint
and raped five children and eight women.
The practice of FGM was widespread throughout the country. There were
estimates that as many as 98 percent of women have undergone FGM; the majority
were subjected to infibulation, the most severe form of FGM. In Somaliland FGM
is illegal; however, the law was not enforced. Puntland also has legislation
prohibiting FGM, but the law was not effectively enforced. UN agencies and NGOs
have made intensive efforts to educate the population about the dangers of FGM,
but there were no reliable statistics to measure the success of their programs.
All parties to the conflict recruited and used child soldiers (see section
In its 2006 report, the UNIE expressed concern about the practice of "asi
walid," a custom whereby parents placed their children in prison for
disciplinary purposes and without any legal procedure. Many of these juveniles
were incarcerated with adults.
Child prostitution was practiced; however, because it was culturally
proscribed and not reported, no statistics were available on its prevalence.
Trafficking in Persons
The pre-1991 law prohibits trafficking. The TFC does not explicitly prohibit
trafficking. Information regarding trafficking in the country's territory was
extremely difficult to obtain or verify; however, the Somali territory was known
to be a source, transit, and possibly destination country for trafficked women
and children, and there were reports of trafficking during the year. Ethiopian
women were believed to be trafficked to and through the country to the Middle
East for forced labor or sexual exploitation. Armed militias reportedly also
trafficked Somali women and children for forced labor or sexual exploitation,
and some of those victims also may have been trafficked to the Middle East and
Europe. Trafficking networks were reported to be involved in transporting child
victims to South Africa for sexual exploitation.
Puntland was noted by human rights organizations as an entry point for
trafficking. The UNIE reported that trafficking in persons remained rampant and
that the lack of an effective authority to police the country's long coastline
contributed to trafficking. Various forms of trafficking are prohibited under
some interpretations of Shari'a and customary law, but there was no unified
policing in the country to interdict these practices, nor any effective justice
system for the prosecution of traffickers.
There continued to be reports that children were sent out of the country to
relatives and friends in western countries, where they worked or collected
welfare and sent money back to family members in the country.
At various times, political authorities in the regional administrations of
Somaliland and Puntland expressed a commitment to address trafficking, but
corruption and lack of resources prevented the development of effective policies
and programs. Many officials in these administrations were known to condone
human trafficking. No resources were devoted to trafficking prevention or to
victim protection. There were no reports of trafficking-related arrests or
prosecutions. Somaliland and Puntland officials were not trained to identify or
assist trafficking victims. NGOs worked with IDPs, some of whom may have been
Persons with Disabilities
In the absence of functioning governance institutions, the needs of most
persons with disabilities were not addressed. Several local NGOs in Somaliland
provided services for persons with disabilities. Associations of disabled
persons reported numerous cases of discrimination to the UNIE.
There was widespread abuse of persons with mental illness. It was common for
such persons to be chained to a tree or within their homes.
More than 85 percent of the population shared a common ethnic heritage,
religion, and nomad-influenced culture. In most areas members of groups other
than the predominant clan were excluded from effective participation in
governing institutions and were subject to discrimination in employment,
judicial proceedings, and access to public services.
Minority groups and low-caste clans included the Bantu (the largest minority
group), the Benadiri, Rer Hamar, Brawanese, Swahili, Tumal, Yibir, Yaxar,
Madhiban, Hawrarsame, Muse Dheryo, and Faqayaqub. The UNIE estimated that
minority groups may constitute 22 percent of the population. Intermarriage
between minority groups and mainstream clans was restricted. Minority groups had
no armed militias and continued to be disproportionately subject to killings,
torture, rape, kidnapping for ransom, and looting of land and property with
impunity by faction militias and majority clan members. Many minority
communities continued to live in deep poverty and to suffer from numerous forms
of discrimination and exclusion.
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Persons with HIV/AIDS continued to face discrimination and abuse in their
local communities, and employers in all parts of the country. UNICEF reported
that persons with HIV/AIDS were subjected to physical abuse, rejected by their
families, and subjected to workplace discrimination and dismissal.
Discriminatory acts also affected children whose parent(s) were HIV positive,
hindering prevention efforts and access to services.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The 1990 constitution allows workers to form and join unions, and the TFC
respected this right; however, due to the civil war and clan fighting, the only
partially functioning labor union in the country was the NUSOJ. The Puntland
Charter and the Somaliland Constitution also protect workers' freedom of
association. Labor laws were not enforced in all parts of the country, resulting
in an absence of effective protection for workers' rights.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The TFC allows unions to conduct their activities without interference and
grants workers the right to strike. Wages and work conditions in the traditional
culture were established largely on the basis of ad hoc arrangements based on
supply, demand, and the influence of the worker's clan. There are no export
The Somaliland Trade Union Organization (SOLTUO), formed in 2004, claimed to
have 26,000 members representing 21 individual unions. SOLTUO claimed to be
democratic and independent, but there were no activities undertaken by the
SOLTUO during the year.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The pre-1991 Penal Code and the TFC prohibit forced or compulsory labor,
including by children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred.
It could not be confirmed whether, as had been reported in 2005, local clan
militias or other armed militia forced members of minority groups to work on
banana plantations without compensation. It also could not be confirmed if in
Middle and Lower Juba, and Lower Shabelle Bantus were used as forced labor, as
in previous years.
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The pre-1991 labor code and the TFC prohibit child labor; however, child
labor was widespread.
The recruiting and use of child soldiers was a problem (see section 1.g.).
Young persons commonly were employed in herding, agriculture, and household
labor from an early age. Children broke rocks into gravel and worked as vendors
of cigarettes and khat on the streets. UNICEF estimated that from 1999 to 2005,
36 percent of children between the ages of five and 14 were in the workforce--31
percent of males and 41 percent of females. The actual percentage of working
children was believed to be even higher. The lack of educational opportunities
and severely depressed economic conditions contributed to the prevalence of
e. Acceptable Conditions for Work
Although the TFC and the Somaliland Constitution both include provisions for
acceptable working conditions, there was no organized effort by any of the
factions or de facto regional administrations to monitor acceptable conditions
of work during the year. There is no national minimum wage. With an estimated 43
percent of the population earning less than $1 (approximately 1,344 Somali
shillings) per day, there was no mechanism to attain a decent standard of living
for workers and their families.
* The United States does not have diplomatic representation
in Somalia, nor were U.S. government personnel permitted to travel into any of
the territory of the former state of Somalia during the year. This report draws
in large part on non-U.S. government sources.