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Somali Government Denies Report of Rights Violations

In this photo released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team, Ugandan soldiers serving with AMISOM patrol through the deserted streets of Bakara Market in central Mogadishu, August 9, 2011 (file photo)

An official of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is denying a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, which accuses government forces and insurgents of committing human rights violations.

Government spokesman Abdirahman Omar Osman said the rights group had their facts wrong by suggesting in the report that the TFG has failed to provide basic security for unarmed civilians.

“We utterly refute this allegation and we are willing to meet human rights officials to discuss this,” said Omar. “In the report, they stated that reliable figures are hard to come by in Somalia, which clearly shows the information they have lacks credibility. They are out of touch with the reality on the ground.”

He also said the U.S.-based rights group failed to give the TFG an opportunity to respond to the allegations before releasing the report.

In its report, HRW alleges that all parties in Somalia’s armed conflict committed serious violations of the laws of war that are contributing to the country’s humanitarian catastrophe. But, Omar denies the accusations saying his government denounces “any forms of human rights violations.”

“It is al-Shabab [which] is responsible for all these sort of human rights violations, which include recruiting underage children,” said Omar. “We utterly condemn the extremists’ inhuman and irreligious strategy of using all these human rights violations…We say to them [HRW] that they got it wrong and that it was al-Shabab which was responsible, not us.”

The report also called on all parties involved to urgently end abuses against civilians, hold those responsible to account, and ensure access to aid and free movement of people fleeing conflict and drought.

Osman said his government deserves praise not criticism from the rights group following the recent withdrawal of the insurgent group al-Shabab from the capital, Mogadishu.

“The TFG takes its responsibility to the protection of civilians [seriously] and we take extreme cautions under extreme difficult circumstances when we conduct operations to bring peace and stability in the country,” said Osman.

He insisted that government forces are equipped to prevent human rights abuses.

“Our forces have had training and they fully comply with international and humanitarian right laws. So, we take these allegations very serious and in particular those of human rights and humanitarian violations,” said Omar. “We investigate and all perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.”