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2007 | Status of Mission Agreement between The African Union Peacekeeping Mission and Somalia

This document is the Status of Mission Agreement (SoM) between the African Union’s peacekeeping mission and the Government of Somalia. It has been operational since 2007. The Agreement has been criticized because of its provisions relating to criminal and civil offences committed by AMISOM members in Somalia (see the article by Wilson and Hurvitz on our articles page in this section).

For the purposes of criminal prosecution, AMISOM’s SoM (see para.55) distinguishes between accused who are members of AMISOM’s military as opposed to its civilian components: members of the military component of AMISOM are ‘subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of their respective participating states in respect of any criminal offences which may be committed by them in Somalia’. The result is that victims of crimes committed by AMISON military staff in Somalia have effectively no chance of ever bringing the perpetrator to justice.

In the case of AMISOM civilian members accused of committing a crime, the Somali government is to inform AMISOM’s Head of Mission (HoM) who may then make necessary supplementary inquiries. The HoM and Government of Somalia are to agree on whether or not criminal proceedings should be instituted. If they cannot reach agreement, the question is to be resolved (see para 59) by a three-party jointly appointed Standing Claims Commission. However the provision stipulates that this Standing Commission will resolve any ‘dispute or claim of a private law character not resulting from the operational necessity of AMISOM.’ It is thereby implied that operational necessity may act as a shield against criminal prosecution. This is in sharp contrast with the UN’s 2013 SoM Agreement with Somalia which does not recognize a category of crimes committed within the conduct of official duties or operational necessity. Nor does the UN’s Agreement remove military peacekeepers  accused of committing crimes from the jurisdiction of Somali courts, provided international due process rights and standards are ensured.

In the case of civil offences, if the accusation relates to conduct ‘within official duties’ AMISOM members are immune from legal process without recourse being had to any commission or tribunal. If the conduct was not within the official duties of the accused, civil proceedings in Somalia may go ahead. Although the provision implies a right of the defendant to ‘protect his interests in the proceeding’ there is no reference to international standards of justice fairness and due process.

For a revealing comparison, click here to see the 2013 Status of Mission Agreement between the United Nations peacekeeping force and Somalia.