Human Rights Centre today, 9th December 2015, issued annual report on the situation of human rights in Somaliland. Human Rights Centre (HRC) is a voluntary nongovernmental organization devoted to defending human rights in Somaliland. HRC produces every year Annual Review as a part of the World Human Rights Day. Below is the executive summary and recommendations of the report.
This report is based on one year long research and documentations carried out by Human Rights Centre in all regions of Somaliland. Researchers gathered information at the regions between April and October 2015. The documentation department of Human Rights Centre also takes regular monitoring and documentation of human rights abuses in Somaliland.
Somaliland declared independence from Somali Republic on 18th May 1991 to annul union between Somaliland and Somalia which on 1st July 1960 formed Somali Republic after gaining independence from Britain and Italy, respectively. In 9 years (from 1960 to 1969) civilian government ruled the country. On October 1969 the military came into power and stayed until rebel groups toppled them in 1991. Since declaration of independence in 1991 Somaliland succeeded building peace and founding functioning government.
On 2001 constitution was approved by the people in referendum. Subsequently, elections of local councillors, president and parliamentarians were held from 2002 to 2012. The constitution establishes three state branches, namely the executive, judiciary and legislature. The tripartite system enshrined in the constitution was intended to provide proper functioning check and balances and separation of powers that prevent abuse of power, and to establish accountability.
Despite these successes, there are challenges and hurdles. In 2015, five civilian people died in the hands of the police force. There has not been any independent investigations on these actions. Human Rights Centre found arrests without due process of law and prolonged pre-trial detentions. The situation of detention centres is alarming and lack necessary human needs such food and sanitation. Police force is not subject to the oversight and jurisdiction of the civilian courts.
Journalists, human rights activists and members of the political opposition have faced harassment or arbitrary arrest by the authorities. In this year, nineteen (19) journalists were detained in Somaliland.
The publication of Hubsad newspaper is suspended by the authorities, and Cabdirashiid Nuur Wacays, chairman of Hubsad newspaper and Siciid Khadar Cabdilaahi, editor-in-chief of Hubsad newspaper, were arrested on 30th November 2015 in Hargeisa. The authorities accused the journalists of running unlicensed newspaper. They were released 3rd December on bail. The journalists were arrested from the Office of the Attorney General while they were filling to register the names of new leadership and ownership of Hubsad newspaper. Furthermore, Haatuf Media Group shut down by the government in April 2014 is still on closure.
Guleid Ahmed Jama, the chairperson of Human Rights Centre, was arrested in 18th April 2015 for an interview he gave to BBC Somali Service where he raised concerns on due process of law on death penalty cases. He was charged of instigation to disobey the laws, subversive or anti-national propaganda, and publication or circulation of false and exaggerated or tendentious news capable of disturbing public order. He was released on bail on 6th May. On 26th August Hargeisa Regional Court issued decree closing the criminal case against Guleid.
Traditional leaders who were critical to the government were arrested. Sultan Mohamed Muse (aka Cune) was arrested in Buroa, east of Somaliland, by Somaliland police on 6th July 2015 after he opposed extension of presidential term in a media interview. He was released on 18th July. Sultan Mowlid Ali Sabayste, traditional elder, was arrested on 17th September. The Sultan was arrested after he opposed and criticized government’s transfer of Berbera Petroleum Terminals to private business. He was released on 5th October.
Unsanctioned public demonstrations are prohibited in Somaliland. Number of protests organized by the opposition parties have been halted by the government which refused to provide permission on the basis of “national security”. In these public protests total number of thirty two (32) members of Waddani opposition party were arrested in different occasions. They were all released.
In this year seven people are known to be executed in Somaliland after years of de facto moratorium. Both the constitution of Somaliland and the Penal Code allows death penalty. This report raises serious concerns on the due process of law of death penalty cases.
Women and girls suffer sexual and gender based violence. They face challenges in accessing to justice. Interventions from customary law and legal gaps in the formal system weaken women’s legal protection. For instance, gentile female mutilating and early/forced marriage are not prohibited by law. The constitution guarantees rights and freedoms for women. However, women are least represented in the political level, limiting their right to participate in politics. There is only one female member in the two houses of the Parliament (164 members in the Lower and Upper House), and three ministers in 55 cabinet members. There is no single female judge or director general.
To the government
- Reform the police in accordance of Somaliland constitution and the international standards of good practices;
- Subject the police under the jurisdiction of the civilian courts;
- Carry out independent investigation to examine incidents of death and injury involved by police;
- Police use of force shall be regulated, proportional, and shall strictly follow the legal limitations imposed by Somaliland laws and international standard practices;
- The police shall respect and apply the constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code in making arrests, searches and seizures;
- Decriminalize media and stop applying the Penal Code in media cases;
- Drop all charges against Cabdirashiid Nuur Wacays and Siciid Khadar Cabdilaahi;
- Lift the suspension of Haatuf newspaper and allow reopening of Haatuf;
- Allow the functioning of Hubsad newspaper;
- Stop arrests and harassment of journalists;
- Allow opening of independent radios;
- Halt crackdowns of public demonstrations and allow demonstrations so that people are able to exercise constitutionally guaranteed freedom;
- Apply the National Gender Policy;
- Enact Family Law, Gender Based Violence Act and create environment that protect women and girls from gender based violence and reform law enforcement agencies so that victims of gender based violence are able to report and seek justice;
- Amend the outdated Somali Penal Code and enact penal law that is updated and is in accordance of Somaliland constitution;
- Regulate workplaces to enable employees exercising their rights stipulated in the Labour Law;
- Register refugees and provide protection and assistance.
To the Parliament
- Approve Police Act compatible with the constitution, and the international standards;
- Approve quota for women and minority clans.
To the donors
- Press Somaliland government to implement the recommendations stated in this report, and ensure donor projects are human rights sensitized;
- Support reforming the judiciary and law enforcement agencies;
- Support decriminalization of media and raise closure and suspension of Haatuf Hubsad newspapers with Somaliland government.
Guleid Ahmed Jama
Chairperson of Human Rights Centre
Hana Abdisalaan Mohamed
Deputy Chairperson of Human Rights Centre
Click the link below to view the full report