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

British Fighters On Frontline of ISIS Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign Jihadists More

Audio Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia

'Ebola in Town' has danceable beat, while also delivering serious message about avoiding infection More

Video New Technology Gives Surgeons Unprecedented Views of Patients’ Bodies

Technology offers real-time, interactive, medical visualization and is multi-dimensional 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid