6.A  Human Rights issues 


6.1 Political violence and banditry since the fall of Siad Barre's government in 1991 have claimed thousands of lives, mostly civilians.  Both the police and militia forces set up by factions have committed numerous human rights abuses. The population has faced numerous human rights problems since 1991. [2a] Current issues include the lack of political rights, harassment and abuse of minority groups, denial of fair trial and excessively harsh punishments given by courts set up by some faction administrations, arbitrary detention, violence and discrimination against women and the almost universal practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). [2a][4]  

6.2 In practice, rule of law, guarantees of personal security, and protection of human rights vary from location to location and according to the social standing of the individual. [38] There are areas of the country where the situation is relatively stable; basic law and order is the norm in most locations. [2a][7][38] There are reports that during 2002 security conditions have improved in many areas, however it is the case that the country situation, particularly in southern Somalia, is very fluid and liable to change. [2a][7][8][38] It is also the case that violence has also continued to occur in many parts of the country, particularly southern Somalia. [4]  Mogadishu in particular, whilst enjoying some long periods of relative stability, has a complex political landscape and can experience sudden changes in security conditions.  Conditions can vary widely within different parts of the city. [35] In his 2002 report the UN Independent Expert for human rights identified the situation in Mogadishu as having been "particularly grave". [4]  

6.3 During the first half of 2003 there are reports that general crime levels have increased in the capital, this has been attributed to freelance bandits. [10ap][10bd] The domestic Mogadishu based human rights group Dr. Ismail Jumale Human Rights Centre (DIJHRC) reports that most violations occur in Mogadishu and its environs, it states most victims are from minority groups. [10bk] UNICEF have expressed particular concern that attacks, kidnappings and killings specifically targeting children have increased in Mogadishu and other vulnerable parts of southern Somalia since late 2002. [10az]  

6.4 During 2001Amnesty International refer to hundreds of civilians being killed in outbreaks of violence during which indiscriminate force was used.  Incidents reportedly took place mainly in the Mogadishu area and in the south of the country and reportedly also involved Ethiopian troops supporting the RRA. [6a] There have been further reports of violence during 2002 and early 2003. [2a][3b][4][7] UN Security reports indicate that throughout the country an estimated 488 persons were killed in faction-based or inter-clan conflict during the first 8 months of 2002. Several incidents of looting were reported, in some cases associated with the aftermath of fighting. [4] According to figures issued by the DIJHRC, during the 12 months ending in July 2003 the organisation registered the details of 530 civilians who had been killed. [10bk]   

6.5 The rule of law, guarantees of personal security and protection from human rights abuses vary from location to location. Much of the countryside, particularly Somaliland, Puntland and pockets of southern Somalia are considered safe. Despite the basic perception of Somalia as 'anarchic', basic law and order is in fact the norm in most locations. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that much of Somalia is safer for local residents than is the case in neighbouring countries, although there are shifting zones of very dangerous banditry in places such as Jowhar, the lower Juba valley and parts of Mogadishu. [38] Somalis generally ensure their safety by residing in 'home areas' of their clan, however some politically weak social groups are less able to secure such protection. [8][38]  

6.6 A new UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia was appointed and made his first visit in August and September 2001. [4][6a] On 4 September 2002 the Independent Expert for human rights concluded his second annual visit to the region.  He visited Somaliland and Puntland but had not been able to visit Mogadishu and Baidoa due to the security situation.  He concluded that there had been an improvement in the human rights situation in Puntland and Somaliland.  In Somaliland in particular he noted that there had been no reports of serious human rights abuses. [3a][4] However, following the visit the expert cited particular concerns regarding the plight of internally displaced persons, law enforcement and prison conditions, protection of women's rights, economic, social and cultural rights and the ongoing need to address alleged past human rights atrocities. [4] Initial comments by the expert in September 2003 at the conclusion of his third visit suggested the general trend in Somaliland was more positive than the previous year.  On this visit the expert had additionally been able to visit Kismayo, in the south, but as had been the case in 2002 insecurity prevented the inclusion of Mogadishu. [10bu] 

Torture, inhumane and degrading treatment 

6.7As of the end of 2001 no action was reported to have been taken against TNG, Somaliland, and Puntland forces, warlord supporter's, or members of militias responsible for torturing, beating, raping, or otherwise abusing persons in 2000 or 2001. [2a] Human rights defenders in Somaliland reported cases of torture by the police force during 2001. [6a] During 2002 there were some reports of the use of torture by the Puntland and Somaliland administrations and also by warring militiamen against each other or against civilians.  However, observers believed that many incidents of torture were not reported. In July 2002 a regional court found a young man guilty in Mogadishu of stealing more than $20.  The court sentenced him to amputation of his hand, however, the TNG Justice Minister and the DIJHRC protested; the sentence was under review at the end of 2002. [2a] 

6.8 In its annual report the DIJHRC reported that during 2002 there were 32 rape cases in Mogadishu, largely committed by militia members.  In the 12 months ending in July 2003 the organisation logged 31 rapes. [2a][6b][10bk] However, other reports suggest that the incidents of rape have in fact increased during the first half of 2003. [10ap] In its report covering 2002, AI refers to women and girls who are IDPs, as well as underprivileged minorities including Bantu, Bravanese, Midgan, Tumal, Yabir and the wealthier Benadiri community, as being particularly as risk of rape by militia and other gunmen. [6b]   

Arbitrary or unlawful killings 

6.9 TNG security forces and police killed several persons during 2002. For example, on June 22 2002 TNG police killed a man after he refused to pay a tax levy at Bakara market in Mogadishu. On 22 September 2002 TNG soldiers who were manning a checkpoint on the outskirts of Merka opened fire on a minibus taxi after it refused to stop and killed one person.  No action had been taken in either case by the TNG authorities against those responsible as of the end of 2002. [2a] Numerous deaths also resulted from conflicts between security and police forces and militias and between rival militias during 2002, particularly between the months of May and July. [2a][6a] 

6.10 Amnesty International referred in their annual report covering events during 2001 to local Human Rights defenders' reports that police in Somaliland committed unlawful killings. [6a] Puntland authorities took no action against members of the security forces who, during the forcible dispersal of a demonstration in Bossaso in February 2001, shot and killed 1 woman and injured 11 others.  Likewise, the Somaliland authorities failed to take any action in relation to the August 2002 killing of a small child by the police. [2a] On 17 August 2002 it was reported that a traditional Elder, Sultan Ahmad Mahmud Muhammad, was killed in mysterious circumstances in Puntland at the hands of the administrations security forces. [4] There were allegations he had been extrajudicially executed; it was reported that a Government investigation was under way at the end of 2002. [6b]    

6.11 No action was likely to be taken against the responsible members of TNG forces, Somaliland and Puntland forces, warlord supporters, or members of militias for numerous killings in 2000; likewise there had been no action in respect of many killings that took place during 2001.  As of the end of 2002 no action had been taken against any militia members in respect of killings that had occurred during 2001. [2a] 


6.12 As of December 2002 there were no known reports of unresolved politically motivated disappearances, although cases easily might have been concealed among the thousands of refugees and displaced persons.  There were numerous kidnappings, including kidnappings of children, by militia groups and armed assailants who demanded ransom for hostages. [2a][6b] NGO staff including Somali employees of the UN and other foreign nationals along with local businessmen and politicians were among those taken kidnapped during 2002.  The whereabouts of 10 ethnic Arabs kidnapped in September 2002 was unknown at the end of 2002. [2a][4] The pattern of abductions has continued during the first half of 2003 and, according to some reports, increased. [10ap][10bk] DIJHRC report that during the 12 month period ending in July 2003 it had recorded the details of 185 abductions. [10bk] There were no investigations or action taken against the perpetrators of kidnappings that occurred during 2002 or in respect of incidents that had occurred in 2000 and 2001. [2a] 

Abuses by militia groups 

6.13 Fighting between rival clans and factions continues in many parts of the country. [6a][3a][3b] There are continued reports of killings and reprisal killings of clan opponents, expulsions of members of other clans, cases of kidnapping as well as detention, and torture or ill treatment of prisoners.  Women and minorities are particularly vulnerable to abuses. [2a][6a][6d] The DIJHRC chief investigator stated in July 2003 that civilians are often killed during factional fighting due to the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas, he asserted that the combatants did not care what happened to civilians. [10bk] None of the factions responsible respect the principles of international humanitarian law regulating the conduct of armed conflict and protection of civilians and members of faction militias generally act with impunity. [6a][6b] Faction leaders have done little or nothing to suppress the arbitrary abuses of gunmen in the areas they claim to control. [6d] According to UN sources, there are about 10,000 militiamen in Mogadishu alone. [4] However, in a positive development the JVA were, as of September 2003, in the process of disarming militias in Kismayo and surrounding areas that it controls. [10bs][10bu]

Regional situation for human rights activists 

6.14 There are several local and international NGOs engaged in human rights activity currently operating in Somalia.  Human rights defenders in central and southern Somalia face daily dangers of arbitrary killing, kidnapping or detention by faction militias. [2a][6d] In Puntland, civil society organisations documenting abuses receive little tolerance from the political authorities and are at risk as a result of the unresolved conflict. [6d] In early August 2002 Puntland authorities arrested several human rights advocates who were planning to attend a conference in Hargeisa. They were released several weeks later at the request of the visiting UN Independent Expert on Human Rights. [2a][4] During 2002 the Puntland authorities permitted independent monitors to undertake prison visits. [2a] 

6.15 In March 2003 the Puntland authorities reportedly ordered the closure of the offices of several local human rights groups located in Bossaso.  A spokesman for the authorities claimed the groups had "violated their mandates and engaged in political activities and actions inimical to the interests of the people of Puntland", a claim denied by the groups concerned.  There were also suggestions that the groups closed had been targeted as a result of their participation in the meeting with human rights group from other parts of the country during the previous month (see both the previous and following paragraphs). [10aa] 

6.16 In contrast, there has been general respect for human rights in Somaliland and local human rights orientated NGOs are able to operate freely without harassment. [2a][6d] Somaliland authorities permitted prison visits by independent monitors and such visits occurred during 2002. [2a] In February 2003 the Somaliland authorities permitted Amnesty International, Novib and International Co-operation for Development to run a jointly organised meeting/work-shop for Somali based NGOs. Somali human rights defenders representing 23 organisations attended this 9-day event. [6d]  

Local human rights organisations  

6.17 A Somali wide human rights organisation is INXA, an umbrella organisation of the Peace and Human Rights Network. [10aa] Human rights organisations based in Mogadishu include Peace and Human Rights Network, Coalition of Grassroots Women's' Organisations and Dr Ismail Jumale Human Rights Centre (DIJHRC), sometimes also referred to as IJHRC this is the largest human rights group in the country. [2a][6d][10bk] Formed in 1996, DIJHRC organisation is involved in investigating the continued conflict in the capital, it conducts effective human rights monitoring including prison visits, and organised periodic demonstrations for peace.  [2a][10bk] Kisima Peace and Human Rights Organisation is based in Kismayo while ISHA Human Rights Organisation, formed in November 1999 by intellectuals from communities in south-western Somalia in response to widespread human rights violations in the southern regions, operates in Bay and Bakool (SWS). [2a][6d][7]  

6.18 Dulmidiid Centre for Human Rights and We Are Women Activists (WAWA) are among the human rights organisations based in the Puntland region; the Bossaso offices of these organisations and INXA were however closed down by the authorities in March 2003. [6d][10aa] Human rights organisations active in Somaliland include Nagaad Women's Coalition, Hornwatch and several others. Activists there are concerned mainly about a very poor justice system and declining political representation for women and minorities. [6d]  

International human rights organisations 

6.19 As of 2002 international organisations operating in Somalia included the Red Cross, CARE, Save the children and various organisations involved in demining activity including the Halo Trust.  MSF reportedly suspended their operations in October 2002 following an attack on one of their staff in Middle Shabelle. [2a] UN agencies are engaged in on going activity in various parts of the country. [2a][3b] NGOs were able to operate freely in all areas of the country except Puntland where Abdullahi Yusuf refused the UN, EU and other NGO agencies access when he resumed power in May 2002; he claimed they had supported his opponent. [2a]  However, the kidnapping of Somalis working for the UN and other international aid organisations is a serious concern. [3b]  

6.20 A number of incidents were reported during 2001 and 2002, there were also incidents on attacks against both UN staff and property. [2a][3a][3b][4][6a] On 2 September 2002 an aircraft carrying the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Somalia, Mr. Max Gaylard, came under fire from a local militia as it prepared to take off from Garbahaarey town in Gedo, allegedly in a dispute over payment of landing fees.  No one was injured and the plane was not hit.  The following day the United Nations announced that it had temporarily closed Gedo Region in south-western Somalia to United Nations flights and international staff. This restriction continued to be enforced at the end of 2002. [4][51] In February 2002 a Swiss aid worker was murdered in the coastal town of Merka though this was not believed to have been political, TNG police arrested men suspected of involvement. [2a][4][51] 

6.21 In September 2002 UNIFEM provided training to NGOs and law enforcement agencies on human rights, conventions and access to justice for human rights in Somaliland, Puntland, Mogadishu and the Hiran region.  The UN Security Council report of February 2003 referred to a study on the impact of small arms and light weapons proliferation in Somalia.  It is stated that the report's recommendations, in particular those regarding conflict resolution, peace-building and psychological support, will be implemented during 2003. [3b] 

6.22 In May 2003 Al-Haramayn, a Saudi Arabian based aid agency that ran eight orphanages in the country were accused by the US government of having terrorist links.  In response, the agency closed its doors in Somalia and, on the instruction of the Saudi government, all its international staff were ordered to leave the country.  Somali communities who benefited from the work of the agency reacted with dismay at this decision, the position of over 3,000 children living in the orphanages run by Al-Haramayn was a particular concern. [10ao]

Freedom of Speech and the Media 

6.23 The Transitional Charter, adopted by the TNA in Mogadishu in 2000 but not implemented by the end of 2001, provides for freedom of speech and the press. The Puntland Charter provides for freedom of the Press “as long as they respect the law”, this right was not respected in practice during 2002. The Somaliland Constitution also provides for freedom of the Press but this right was restricted in practice during 2002.   [2a]  

6.24 According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), following the collapse of Barre's Government in 1991 the media, which had included opposition and independent newspapers quickly splintered into several small clan-run newsletters and low-watt radio stations. Independent journalism all but disappeared but in late 2000, following Abdiqassim 's election as president of the TNG, independent journalism has began to re-emerge in Somalia. [12] However, contrary to this view the Nordic Fact Finding Mission of 1997 to Mogadishu contains testimonies suggesting that the independent media was "alive and well" in 1997.  At this time the Somali Independent Journalists' Union (SIJU) reportedly had 217 members, mainly from Mogadishu but also from Kismayo and the principle cities in the north. [35] In its report covering 2001Amnesty International commented that freedom of expression was very limited in all areas of the country, with little tolerance by government authorities or armed factions of criticism by individuals or the media. [6a] However, in February 2003Amnesty International referred to "a largely free press" operating in Somaliland. [6d] 

Media institutions 

6.25 The major faction leaders in Mogadishu operate small radio stations; a total of seven local stations operated in the capital in 2002. [2a][10u][12]The former state-controlled Radio Mogadishu was initially taken over by faction leader Muhammad Aideed and, following his death, remained under his son's control.  Faction leaders, Ali Ato and Ali Mohamed also both set up rival stations in the early 1990s, also calling them Radio Mogadishu.  Broadcasting has been sporadic since 1991, reflecting the warlords' fortunes.  Recent years have seen the emergence of stronger regional media and several, often short lived FM stations. [14h] The TNG began operating a FM station in April 2001; also during 2001 a new radio station funded by local businesses began operating in the south of the country. [2a] In October 2002 the NGO Reporters without borders, referred to there being about 12 privately owned radio stations in the country. [13d]The authorities in Somaliland and Puntland both operate their own radio stations. [2a][14h]  

6.26 The majority of the citizens obtain news from foreign news broadcasts, primarily the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which transmits a daily Somali-language programme. [2a] HornAfrik, which has won praise abroad for its "relative fairness and objectivity in covering a messy political situation", is Somalia's only independent radio and station and one of two independent TV stations. [12][14h] Unlike the previous year, several telephone companies and Internet providers operated and provided service throughout the country during 2002. [2a]  

6.27 During 2002 the print media largely consisted of short, photocopied dailies, published in the larger cities and often linked to one of the factions. Several of these newspapers are nominally independent and are critical of the faction leaders.  [2a] According to the CPJ six different titles appeared in Mogadishu in 2002; this contrasts with the 19 titles the Nordic fact-finding mission of 1997 referred to having been in circulation in the capital at that time.  [10u][12][35] Somaliland has at least three daily newspapers, one government daily, and one independent and a third that is produced in English language, this was formally a weekly newspaper; however, some reports suggest additional privately owned titles are now in circulation in Somaliland's main towns. [2a][13c][14h] There are reportedly three daily publications produced in Puntland. [14h] In October 2002 Reporters without borders suggested there were a total of around 20 privately owned newspapers being produced within the country as a whole. [13d]

Media law and practice 

6.28 During 2001, senior parliamentary officials in Mogadishu barred journalists from covering proceedings of the TNA; however, the ban did not remain in force during 2002. [2a] On 28 September 2002 the TNA passed a TNG sponsored media bill prohibiting the publication of material that undermines Islam, national unity, the political system, or “the common interest of all Somalis” and forbids criticism of Government officials or reporting on Government secrets.  [2a][12][13d] Critics claimed that if enforced the new law would give the TNG powers of censorship; reporting on financial scandals involving the government or senior officials would represent a violation of the law. [2a][10u] It was reported that should the media contravene the new measures they would risk withdrawal of their operating licences. All of Somalia's privately owned media began a strike on 2 October 2002 to protest against the new law. They said they would no longer report official press releases if the government did not give way. [13d] This development prompted the TNG President decline to sign the new law. [10u] Instead he created a committee of lawyers, journalists and senior officials to study the journalists' grievances and had requested that their amendments be incorporated into the bill; there were no reports of the law having been enforced during the final 3 months of 2002. [2a][10u][12]  

6.29 On 5 June 2002 the authorities in Somaliland banned the establishment of private radio stations.  People in possession of transmitting equipment were ordered to surrender it to the authorities; however a BBC funded FM station was subsequently permitted to broadcast. [2a][12][13c] Although at the time of the ban the official station was operating in the country several people and opposition parties had reportedly applied for broadcasting frequencies. [13c] In May 2002 the authorities in neighbouring Puntland had cancelled the broadcasting licence of the privately owned Somali Broadcasting Corporation (SBC).  Local observers stated SBC had been silenced because it had criticised Col. Yusuf and shown support both for his political opponent and for the TNG in Mogadishu. [12][13b] The SBC licence was not restored until May 2003. [10ak] In August 2002 the Puntland authorities banned two local BBC Somali Service correspondents from reporting for the BBC.  Officials accused them of "not being objective in their reporting of events in the region."  Local sources suggested that this action was also the result of a perceived bias against Yusuf. [12] 


6.30 During 2001 there were incidents of harassment, arrest and detention of journalists in all areas in Somalia, according to the NGO "Reporters without borders" the situation was worst in Puntland. [2a][6a][13a] The Government of Somaliland reportedly tolerated criticism by journalists during 2002. [2a] However, in October 2002 Reporters without borders referred to the need for journalists in both Somaliland and Puntland to practice self-censorship or risk reprisals. [13d] 

6.31 In June 2001 the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution authorising journalists and the staff of humanitarian organisations to wear bulletproof jackets in Somalia, even though the arms embargo prohibits the export of this type of equipment to the country. [13a]  

6.32 During 2001 three journalists were arrested in Puntland; one in February was accused of falsely reporting that two homosexual girls had been sentenced to death and two others who were arrested in August were accused of publishing "inflammatory news" about insecurity in Bossaso.  Additionally, the editor of the weekly Panorama stated he had received death threats following the publication of a cartoon depicting Osama bin Laden as a fugitive terrorist. [13a] In September 2002 the editor of the Somalipress journal was detained in Puntland for one month without charge. [6b] 

6.33 In January 2002 TNG police arrested a newspaper reporter allegedly for reporting inaccurately on parliamentary proceedings, he was released 2 days later. [2a]In February 2002 unidentified gunmen raided the TNG operated radio station Radio Mogadishu - Voice of the Somali Republic taking broadcasting equipment that temporarily forced it off the air. [12]  

6.34 In Somaliland there were two incidents reported during 2002.  In March 2002 the editor of the local daily newspaper, Al-Jamhuriya was arrested and detained for several days following an article that claimed the House of Elders had been bribed to extend the President's term for a year. [2a]  In August 2002 the editor of the daily publication, Wartire, was sentenced to four months imprisonment after being found guilty of "misrepresenting" facts and publishing "fabrications and baseless reports." The offending article referred to a secret pact having been signed between president Kahin and the Djibouti president. [2a][12] However, he was released 3 days later at the request of the visiting UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the prison sentence was changed to a fine. [2a][3a][6b] 

Academic freedom 

6.35 There are restrictions on academic freedom; according to the US Department of State academics operate under restrictions similar to those imposed on members of the media. [2a] In June 2002 the president of the East African University in Bossaso was among scores of alleged supporters of Jama Ali Jama to have been detained by Abdullahi Yusuf's forces. [6b] 

Freedom of Religion  

6.36 Islam has been made the "official" religion by the TNG and some local administrations, including those of the self declared republic of Somaliland and autonomous region of Puntland. There is no legal provision for the protection of religious freedom; during 2002 there were some limits to religious freedom. [2a]  

6.37 There is strong social pressure to respect Islamic traditions throughout Somalia, but especially in enclaves controlled by radical Islamists.  These include the district of El Wak in Gedo region and Doble, Ras Chaimboni, and Kulbiyow in the Lower Juba region. [2b]  

6.38 In 1999 the Minister of Religion in Somaliland issued a list of instructions and definitions on religious practices. Under the new rules, religious schools and places of worship were required to obtain the Ministry of Religion's permission to operate. Additionally, the Ministry must approve entry visas for religious groups, and certain unspecified doctrines are prohibited. In Puntland religious schools and places of worship must receive permission from the Ministry of Justice and Religious Affairs to operate. [2a] 

6.39 Any attempt to convert an individual (proselytize) to any religion except Islam is prohibited by law in Somaliland and Puntland and effectively blocked by informal social consensus elsewhere in Somalia. [2a] There are no ecumenical movements or activities to promote greater religious tolerance. Seven Ethiopians arrested in Somaliland for allegedly attempting to proselytise Christianity were released in early 2001. [2b] In September 2002 twelve people, mostly Ethiopian, were briefly detained for a similar offence; they were released without charge. [6b] 


6.40 Most Somalis are Sunni Muslims. [1b][2a] The Sunni majority often view non Sunni-Muslims with suspicion. [2b]


6.41 There is a tiny Christian population in Somalia, mostly Roman Catholics of whom there were an estimated 100 adherents as of December 2000; they maintain a low profile.  [1b][2b] Christians who proclaim their religion sometimes face societal harassment, as do persons of other non-Muslims.  Christian-based international relief organisations generally operate without interference, provided that they refrain from proselytizing. [2b] 

Freedom of Assembly and Association 

Charter provisions in TNG controlled areas 

6.42 There is no mention of freedom of peaceful assembly in the Transitional Charter, nor is there any specific provision for legal protection for freedom of assembly. [2a][37] There is provision organise or associate with political organisations subject to the requirement of the law being fulfilled. [37] 

Charter provisions in Puntland 

6.43 The Puntland Charter provides for freedom of association; however, the Puntland administration has banned all political parties. [2a] 

Constitutional provisions in Somaliland 

6.44 The Somaliland Constitution provides for freedom of association.

In a referendum in May 2001, Somaliland voters approved legislation that provides for the formation of political parties. [1a][2a] The law does however limit the number of political parties allowed to contest general elections to three. An ad hoc commission, nominated by the President and approved by the House of Representatives, has responsibility for considering applications. The law provides that approved parties winning 20 percent of the vote in the presidential elections will be allowed to operate. [2a] 

Public gatherings and demonstrations 

6.45 In practice there is generally freedom of association and assembly within the country.  Citizens were free to assemble in public, however the lack of security effectively limited this right in many parts of the country during 2002. Nevertheless, demonstrations reportedly occurred throughout the country during the year. Unlike in 2001, during 2002 there were no reports that the security forces and police used lethal force to disperse demonstrators. [2a] 

6.46 In 2001 one woman was killed and others injured when police opened fire on a crowd peacefully protesting at the arrest of a number of people in Bossaso, Puntland. [6a] On a number of occasions during 2002, women demonstrated for peace in Puntland despite the ongoing factional fighting. [2a] 

6.47 On 23 August 2001 five Sultans were arrested after they had reportedly set up a council of clan chiefs in Burao, central Somaliland.  Two days earlier nine clan chiefs had been placed under house arrest for "holding an illegal meeting". The Sultans were released in early September 2001 after agreeing to abide by the Somaliland Constitution. However, they refused to accede to President Egal's demand that they disband their organisation arguing that its existence was permitted under the provisions of the constitution.  A mediating team of religious leaders, businessmen and neutral Elders facilitated their release.  The clan chiefs were also released from house arrest.  [10l]  

6.48 In what was reported to be one of the largest protests ever seen in Mogadishu, thousands of people demonstrated against the continuing violence and abductions in the city on 29 June 2003.  A grouping of 46 civil society organisations were reported to have organised the protest, these included women's and human rights groups, professionals and Koranic schools.  The demonstration also incorporated protests against any renewal of hostility in the Lower Juba region where a renewed attack by General Morgan had been reported to be imminent. [10bd]

Political Activists 

6.49 In its report covering 2002 the US Department of state reported that it was not aware of any political prisoners being held in Somalia at the end of 2002.  There were also no known cases of unresolved political disappearances. [2a] 

Southern Somalia 

6.50 Acts of violence against supporters or members of the TNG, including several killings, occurred during 2001 and continued in 2002.  In February 2002 two persons were injured seriously when unknown persons threw a grenade into the residence of TNG Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah. [2a]  

6.51 As of mid June 2002 officials of the human rights group ISHA were not aware of any political prisoners being held in Bay and Bakool. There is no evidence of persecution or harassment of people on political grounds. [7]


6.52 In June 2002, AI report that scores of alleged supporters of Jama Ali Jama were detained for an unspecified number of days by Abdullahi Yusuf's forces. [6b] During his visit to Puntland in 2002 the UN independent expert for human rights successfully requested the release of two members of the Dulmidiid Centre for Human Rights who had been detained and held as prisoners of conscience. [4][6b] 


6.53 Following the establishment of new political parties in the new constitution, the 'Somaliland' National Commission for the Registration of Political Parties issued registration certificates to seven political parties in October 2001. [1a][10n] President Egal then held talks with the leaders of the newly registered parties.  This followed criticism that Egal's UDUB party would have an unfair advantage over other parties' in future multi-party elections. [10n] During the weeks that followed several of these parties opened offices and held political rallies, however none were seen as posing a threat to President Egal. [1a]  

6.54 In May 2001 Sulieman Mohamed Gaal, a former presidential candidate in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland, was arrested in Hargeisa and detained for two weeks before being released on bail without any charge. [6a] During 2002 there were nine new political parties formed in Somaliland. [2a] 

6.55 In June 2003 General Jama Muhammad Ghalib, a former interior minister and police chief of Somalia, was detained when the plane he was travelling in transited Hargeisa.  Ghalib, who originates from Somaliland and has been participating in the peace talks in Nairobi, was reportedly detained because of his support for Somali unity within a federal system. The TNG protested against Ghalib's detention and the Somaliland authorities deported him to Djibouti after two days stating it had been decided not to prosecute him as he was in transit.  [10ba][10bb] It was reported that a group of eight men protesting against Ghalib's arrest attacked Hargeisa airport.  One was reported to have died from wounds sustained in the attack, the remaining seven were arrested.  Following this incident the Somaliland Information Minister declared that any Somalilander who calls for reunification also calls into question the independence of "the country" and will therefore face the law. [10bb] In July 2003 the authorities in Hargeisa issued a warning against anyone trying to represent Somaliland at the ongoing peace talks in Kenya. [10bi]  

Al - Itihaad 

6.56 Members of the Islamic group Al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, an organisation believed to have been responsible for terrorist attacks in Ethiopia, are at times pursued by Ethiopian forces on Somali territory. [7][22b] Ethiopia has sited the presence of Al-Itihaad members as the reason for sending forces onto Somali territory; this has happened on numerous occasions since 1996. [22b] The influence of the group has however declined considerably in recent years.  

Employment Rights  

Trade Unions and the right to strike 

6.57 The defunct constitution gave workers the right to form unions, but the civil war and factional fighting negated this right and broke up the then government-controlled General Federation of Somali Trade Unions, an organisation that had been created in 1977. [2a][16] Given the political and economic breakdown and the lack of legal enforcement mechanisms, trade unions are unable to function freely. The Somaliland Constitution, the Puntland Charter and the Transitional Charter, adopted by the TNA in 2000 but not implemented by the end of 2001, all establish the right of freedom of association, but no unions or employer organisations existed as of the end of 2002. [2a]  

6.58 The Somali Medical Association (SMA) organised a one-day strike on 21 May 2003 in protest at the security situation in the capital, Mogadishu.  The SMA received support for their action from 14 civil society organisations including groups from the education sector; there were reports that schools in the capital were also closed for the day. [10ap] A further strike took place on 6 July 2003 following the shooting of a prominent doctor. [10be] Both stoppages were reportedly well supported with only emergency cases being treated. [10ap][10be]  

Equal employment rights 

6.59 Wages and work requirements in traditional Somali culture are established largely by ad hoc bartering, based on supply, demand, and the influence of a worker's particular clan. As of 31 December 2002 there had been no organised effort by any of the de facto regional administrations or factions to monitor acceptable conditions of work. [2a] 

Forced labour 

6.60 The pre-1991 Penal Code prohibited forced labour. However, local clan militias generally forced members of minority groups to work on banana plantations without compensation.  During 2002 there were also reports that in Middle and Lower Juba, including the port of Kismayo, Bantus were used as forced labour. [2a] Other minority groups such as the Bravanese are also reportedly used for forced labour. [7] 

Child Labour 

6.61 The pre-1991 Labour Code prohibited child labour, but child labour is a problem. [2a][4] UNICEF reports indicate that 41.9 per cent of children aged 5-14 are classified as working children, they are mainly involved in domestic labour. [4] Formal employment of children is rare, but youths commonly are employed in herding, agriculture, and domestic work from an early age and substantial numbers of children work. The lack of educational opportunities and severely depressed economic conditions contributed to child labour.  There are also reports during 2002 that trafficking in children for forced labour is a problem. [2a]  

People Trafficking

6.62 The pre-1991 Penal Code prohibits trafficking; however, there were some reports of trafficking during the 2002. [2a] Somalia is a source country for trafficking victims, primarily women and children trafficked internally for forced labour by local militias.  Within Somalia, children, some as young as 11 years old, are forcibly conscripted into militias to serve as combatants and servants. [2c] In 2000, Djibouti law enforcement authorities arrested members of a group that was smuggling Somali women to destinations such as Lebanon and Syria to work in brothels. [2a] The number of women being trafficked from Somalia appears to be small.  [2c] There were reports that trafficking in children for forced labour is a serious problem. [2a]  

6.63 During 2002 there were reports of an increase in the smuggling of children out of the country to relatives and friends in western countries where they work or collect benefit payments and send money back to family members in Somalia. [2a][39] In early 2003 the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian affairs produced "A Gap in their Hearts": a report focusing on the experience of Somali Children separated from their families.  This refers to parents paying up to US$ 10,000 to smugglers to take their children out of Somalia and reports that unaccompanied children are given new names and imaginary histories; the children are coached in these and threatened to maintain their new identities. [39] In their Trafficking in Persons Report published in June 2003 the US Department of state reported that many children are trafficked into situations of forced labour and prostitution. [2c]  

6.64 In May 2003 the authorities in Puntland detained a group of Sri Lankan migrants who, according to reports were waiting to be transported to Western Europe.  The traffickers were also identified.  The authorities announced that "appropriate legal action" would be taken against them.  It was also reported that two government employees had been sacked as a result of their involvement in the affair. The Deputy Information Minister for the region stated that Puntland would ensure nobody used its territory for human trafficking.  He also called for assistance from countries that might be the potential destination for migrants in order to stop such activities. [10as] The authorities in Puntland detained a further group of migrants in early September 2003, on this occasion the 52 people comprised both Ethiopians and Somalis form the southern regions. It was reported that 10 traffickers were also detained in Bossaso and will face legal action.  Reports suggest that arrangements and payment of fees are usually made in Bossaso.  The Puntland authorities reiterated their commitment to tackle the problem of human trafficking.  [10bt]    

Freedom of Movement 

6.65 The Transitional Charter and the Puntland Charter both make provision for freedom of movement; however, as in previous years this right continues to be restricted in some parts of the country. [2a]