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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs