News / Africa

Rights Group: Protect Somali Civilians, Civil Society, Journalists

Kenyan soldiers climb into a truck as they prepare to advance near Liboi, Kenya, near border with Somalia, October 2011. (file photo)
Kenyan soldiers climb into a truck as they prepare to advance near Liboi, Kenya, near border with Somalia, October 2011. (file photo)
Joe DeCapua

Amnesty International said this week’s international conference on Somalia in London should add human rights abuses to the agenda. The group said much more needs to be done to protect civilians and restore the rule of law in the country.

Benedicte Goderiaux, an Amnesty researcher on armed conflict, said, “The UK conference…is significant for a number of reasons because it will…mainly discuss the future and the stability of Somalia. However, it is less significant in some ways for us, a human rights organization, because human rights specific concerns have not made it on the agenda.”

Other issues in the forefront

“We believe the international community is more interested in discussing piracy, counter terrorism (and the) political process. And what we are concerned about is that if human rights and the protection of civilians are not addressed, this will also have an impact on the effectiveness of future plans on Somalia,” she said.

Amnesty agrees the agenda does contain important issues, but said the topics should be broader.

Dire Situation

The Amnesty researcher described the human rights situation in Somalia as “dire…particularly in south and central Somalia. Particularly, also, at a time when military operations have increased.”

Kenya’s military is waging an offensive against the Somali militia group al Shabab, which recently formally aligned itself with al Qaida. Al Shabab is blamed for a number of terrorist attacks inside Kenya. The militia is also battling Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces as well as AMISOM, the African Union military mission.

Goderiaux said the fighting between Kenyan forces and al Shabab has caused further displacement of civilians, hindered humanitarian aid and brought a further influx of weapons “in a country already awash with arms.”

Amnesty called on the international community to do a better job of monitoring and recording alleged human rights abuses. It said civil society representatives and journalists have “paid a heavy price” trying to report on rights abuses. Two journalists were killed in Somalia in December and January.

Arms Embargo

“The international community doesn’t really have an effective way to monitor whether the forces that it supports tacitly or actively are actually forces for good in Somalia,” she said.

Amnesty has called on the international community to respect the U.N. arms embargo on Somalia, adding it should be strengthened.

“The arms embargo notably allows for exemptions for weapons and security assistance to be sent to the transitional government forces, and that presumably includes TFG allied militia, as well. We think that these exemptions take place when the U.N. Security Council and the international community do not really have a mechanism to ensure that the assistance given does not contribute to further fueling human rights abuses,” said Goderiaux.

Amnesty also wants the issue of child soldiers addressed on the conference agenda. What’s more, it said long term plans should be made to return the rule of law in Somalia, including rebuilding the judicial system and police force.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid