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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid