To: Amnesty International
Dear Amnesty International,
With reference to the Amnesty International (AI) “Urgent Action” UA: 214/16 index: AFR
52/4851/2016 Somaliland letter, concerning female detainees in Gabiley prison, the Somaliland National Human Rights Commission organized a fact-finding mission, with civil society organizations, on 24 th October 2016, to investigate the allegations made by Amnesty International that for the past month, female detainees at Gabiley prison have complained of sexual violence, including rape, and other forms of torture and ill-treatment by the male guards at the prison. Female guards that report these incidents to prison authorities fear reprisals. The female detainees risk further torture and other ill-treatment during their detention.
The mission consisted of:
Somaliland National Human Rights Commission Nagaad Women’s Umbrella Organisation Legal Clinic (University of Hargeisa) Human Rights Center.
The mission members were 7 female and 4 male all of them active human rights defenders. The ministry of justice and the custodial corps commander both welcomed our mission from the outset and were cooperative and forthcoming with the information we requested from them.
On arrival of the prison compound, the Gabiley prison commander briefed the mission members on the conditions of the prisoners, their numbers, the categories of their crimes and custodial corps numbers. He told the mission members that:
Male section was extremely overcrowded There were a number of juveniles imprisoned with the adult prisoners.
The ministry of justice was aware of this situation and promised to take steps to improve the situation.
When the mission members requested to see and interview the female prisoners, the commander took the unprecedented step of allowing the women investigators to interview the women without the usual presence of prison guards to attend to meetings between prisoners and visitors.
The investigators found out that there were 21 women officers guarding the 31 female prisoners; that there were three layers of protection against people seeking access to the female section of the prison:
A 24 hour male guard on the male section of the prison A four meter concrete wall between the two sections of the prison A 24 hour female guard on the female section of the prison.
As a result of the interviews with a random selection of the female prisoners (who confirmed that there was no sexual violence amounting to torture, including rape and other ill-treatment by male prison guards working during the prison’s evening shifts), prison officials and human rights activists; the fact that the Somaliland National Human Rights Commission and other civil society organizations regularly visit prisons throughout Somaliland and there is no precedent of similar allegations in Somaliland prisons, we have found no evidence to support the allegations of rape and sexual violence that Amnesty International alleges to have taken place in Gabiley prison.
Amnesty International and other concerned human rights organizations are welcome to come to Somaliland and visit prisons and other detention centers to investigate prisoner conditions instead of making wild and unsupported allegations.
Fathia Hussein Ahmed
Chairperson of Somaliland National Human Rights Commission
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