News / Africa

    HRW: Somali Judges, Lawyers Need Protection

    Survivors are helped to escape from a window at Mogadishu’s court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.Survivors are helped to escape from a window at Mogadishu’s court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.
    x
    Survivors are helped to escape from a window at Mogadishu’s court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.
    Survivors are helped to escape from a window at Mogadishu’s court complex in Mogadishu, Somalia, April 14, 2013.
    Reuters
    Somalia's judges and lawyers need protection from al Qaeda-linked militants, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday after deadly bomb attacks targeted law courts in Mogadishu at the weekend.
            
    The al Shabaab rebel group, which has waged a six-year  insurgency to impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law, or sharia, on Somalia, killed about 30 people on Sunday in a wave of suicide bombings and shootings aimed at the courts.

    The rights group described the attacks as a war crime.

    Somalia's new government has made reforming the judiciary and imposing the rule of law a priority in its campaign to shake off the country's ``failed state'' tag. But the government's control of the nation does not extend far beyond major urban centres.
            
    "The current focus on judicial reform in Somalia is critical,'' Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "Crucial to these reforms is ensuring that judges and lawyers have the protection they require to do their jobs.''

    The rights group did not spell out who should provide the protection but the Somali government relies heavily on African peacekeeping forces for security.

    Among those killed were two prominent lawyers who had represented a woman who faced criminal charges after she accused government forces of raping her, the rights group said. The case drew international condemnation and Luul Ali Osman's conviction in February was overturned on appeal.

    It was not clear if Mohamed Mohamud Afrah, the head of the Somali Lawyers Association, and Abdikarin Hassan Gorod, who also represented a journalist who interviewed Osman, had been deliberately targeted.

    "Afrah and Gorod were humanitarian advocates. They were serving victims,'' said Mohamed Ibrahim who heads the National Union of Somali Journalists.

    In Sunday's attacks, at least one car bomb exploded and several suicide bombers blew themselves up at Mogadishu's law courts. Gunmen also stormed the court compound. Shortly after that, a car bomb hit a Turkish aid convoy near the airport.

    "Al Shabaab's attacks on a courthouse and aid workers' convoy show utter disregard for civilian life,'' said Lefkow. "The laws of war protect all civilians and civilian buildings from attack, and courthouses are no exception.''

    It is not the first time Human Rights Watch has accused al Shabaab of war crimes. The group said in 2011 that all sides in Somalia's conflicts - the insurgents, government troops and African peacekeeping soldiers - had indiscriminately killed civilians and were guilty of flouting international laws of war.

    Somalia's Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon said on Monday foreign militants had been involved in the attacks. He called on other nations to help in the fight against the militants.

    Burundi, one of the early contributors of troops to the African Union's peacekeeing force in Somalia, AMISOM, said it would send 200 police officers.

    "Burundi decided to send its police because it estimates that Somalia has made progress in restoring security,'' Elie  Bizindavyi, national police spokesman, told Reuters on Tuesday.

    Although the mandate for the Burundian police was yet to be fully clarified, the first advance team of 200 police officers will protect unarmed units of AMISOM and other humanitarian workers in the field, Bizindavyi said.

    You May Like

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora