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2013 | US State department's Report on Human Rights in Somalia 2013

The US State department's annual Human Rights Reports provide a highly structured overview of problems and advancements in the maintenance of international human rights standards in each country under consideration.

The 2013 Somalia report gives an idea of the (limited) extent of civilian control of the security and other fighting forces in Somalia. The general picture is one of a considerable disjunction between the government’s stated aims and legislation on the one hand and the realities of official conduct and civilian life on the other. The report asserts that in general impunity remained the norm. Governmental authorities took minimal steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses, particularly military and police officials accused of committing rape, killings, and extortion of civilians.

 Of particular interest is the report’s account of military trials and the partially functioning civil judicial system (largely non-functioning in the south) – see section e p.9ff. For safety reasons civilian judges often feared trying cases, leaving military courts to try the majority of civilian cases. A 2011 state of emergency decree gave military courts jurisdiction over crimes, including those committed by civilians, in parts of Mogadishu from which al-Shabaab had retreated. This decree remained in effect through the reporting period. Meanwhile, Al-Shabaab continued to commit grave abuses throughout the country including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, cruel and unusual punishment, rape, restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of movement, restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian assistance, and conscription and use of child soldiers.

 Regarding reparations, although the provisional federal constitution provides for “adequate procedures for redress of violations of human rights”, there were no lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, human rights violations in any region during the year.

 Traditional clan elders continued to mediate conflicts throughout the country, using traditional justice, which was swiftly applied. A problematic feature of these traditional judgments from the perspective of internationally recognized fair trial rights was that entire clans or subclans were sometimes held responsible for alleged violations by individuals.