Connect with us

Briefing Room

Executions Increase in Somalia

Published

on

The sudden increase in summary executions in Somalia has drawn the attention of human rights groups like Amnesty International as well as the local European Union delegation.

In Somalia, a country long troubled by deadly violence, there’s a disturbing new trend: an increase in summary executions.

Somali military courts and the militant group al-Shabab have each executed about a dozen people so far in 2017, all of them killed in public settings as crowds of between 30 and 300 people looked on.

While executions in Somalia are nothing new, the sudden increase has drawn the attention of human rights groups like Amnesty International as well as the local European Union delegation, which has asked Somali authorities to enact a moratorium on the death penalty.

Activists have been particularly critical of executions carried out by military courts, which they say are trying cases beyond their jurisdiction and failing to give defendants fair legal process.

Military courts put to death 11 people in April alone, including a policeman convicted of murdering a civilian, a soldier convicted of killing a civilian, and four al-Shabab militants sentenced for explosions that killed some 80 people in the town of Baidoa.

The execution of five young men by firing squad in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on April 8 sparked the most controversy. Amnesty International says the defendants, all accused of murdering officials in the town of Bossaso, were too young to be tried as adults, never given access to a lawyer and coerced into giving false confessions.

Tortured

The rights group says that according to family members, the boys confessed to the killings only after being beaten, raped, subjected to electric shocks and burned with cigarettes on their genitals.

“These horrific allegations of torture must be fully and independently investigated and those found responsible held to account,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

The head of Puntland Military Appeals Court, Salah Liif, said the court does not force confessions and denied the allegations about the defendants being underage.

“Puntland Administration does not execute children and will never do that,” he told VOA’s Somali service. “It was a propaganda spread by elements playing human rights groups against Puntland.”

Al-Shabab gives defendants virtually no legal process at all. On the morning of May 6, residents of tiny Quar’a Madobe village were going about their business when al-Shabab militants ordered them to assemble. Dozens gathered to see the militants holding two men in civilian clothes at gunpoint.

“They brought the men in front of a tea restaurant, and told the residents they were captured enemy soldiers,” said a witness who spoke to the Somali service. One militant then recited a Quranic verse, he said, and two others used large knives to slice off the men’s heads, as those watching gasped and screamed.

A Somali National Army colonel identified the men as Mowlid Hussein and Ahmed Ya’qub, and said they were driving to the town of Jowhar to tend to family emergencies when al-Shabab intercepted their vehicle. The colonel said they were “off duty, uniformed and unarmed.”

On May 1, al-Shabab executed two other men — Ahmed Ibrahim Ragow, 29, and Yusuf Ali Bajin, 22 — for allegedly raping a girl and killing her brother in the city of Beledweye. One was shot by firing squad; the other was publicly stoned.

Hassan Shire Sheikh is chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD). In an interview with VOA Somali, he called for a complete stop to the executions.

“Carrying out executions abruptly won’t help the nation as it can cause the death of innocents,” said Shire. “The current executions represent retrogressive and unjustifiable [policy], as there is no evidence to suggest that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishment.”

Cleric backs death penalty

Sheikh Bashir Ahmed Salad, an influential cleric and the chairman of the Council of Religious Scholars of Somalia, said his council backs use of the death penalty, which describes as “a strong principle in our Islamic law.”

The cleric, who survived a car bomb in Mogadishu in 2013, is one of the few Somali clerics to publicly criticize al-Shabab’s extreme ideology and terrorist attacks. He supports any harsh sentences against the militant members.

“We generally believe that al-Shabab militant members disrespect human life, kill innocent people indiscriminately and destabilizes people’s peace and norm, so we support any iron hand dealing with them,” he said.

Briefing Room

Singapore-flagged tanker attacked off Somalia but escapes

Published

on

AP — Mogadishu – An international anti-piracy force says a Singapore-flagged chemical tanker has exchanged fire with attackers off the coast of Somalia before escaping unharmed.

The European Union anti-piracy force says in a statement that the MT Leopard Sun was attacked by two skiffs early on Friday about 160 nautical miles off central Somalia. A private security team on the tanker fired warning shots and the skiffs turned away about 20 minutes later.

The Horn of Africa nation saw a brief resurgence of pirate attacks a year ago.

The EU statement says Friday’s attack is “likely to be piracy related” and is the first such attack since November.

The statement says the chemical tanker had been en route from Oman to Cape Town, South Africa.

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

US military says drone strike in Somalia kills 4 extremists

Published

on

VOA — A U.S. drone strike has killed several al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA.

Local sources said missiles fired Wednesday targeted a rickshaw carrying five al-Shabab militants near Jamaame, in the southern Lower Juba region.

“I can tell you that the airstrike hit a rickshaw and that five militants were killed. It was carried out by U.S. drone, helping our intelligence forces on the ground,” a Somali government official told VOA Somali on the condition of anonymity.

The attack was confirmed by witnesses and local residents, who also asked for anonymity because they feared militant reprisals.

Somali officials said they were investigating the identity of those targeted. Some sources said two of those in the rickshaw were civilians traveling with three militants.

A statement Thursday from the U.S. Africa Command said the strike was carried out by the U.S. military “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.” The statement said the strike killed four terrorists and no civilians.

On Tuesday, local residents in the region reported another airstrike that destroyed an al-Shabab training camp in the nearby town of Jilib. That airstrike, also confirmed by U.S. Africa Command, killed three militants.

The U.S. military has carried out dozens of airstrikes against al-Shabab and Islamic State militants in support of Somalia’s federal government.

Continue Reading

Briefing Room

U.S. military denies Al-Shabaab killed its soldier in Somalia

Published

on

MOGADISHU, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) — The United States military confirmed Tuesday no American soldier was killed or injured in southern Somalia as claimed by the Islamist militant group, Al-Shabaab.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom), which oversees American troops on the continent, dismissed the report as incorrect that the insurgents killed the American soldier on the outskirts of Kismayo during a gun fight early Tuesday.

“We are aware of the reports, but they are incorrect. No U.S military were killed or injured in Somalia, as alleged in the reports,” Africom spokesperson Samantha Reho told Xinhua.

The militants through their radio station, Andalus had reported that the American soldier was killed in a gun battle that took place outside Kismayo town on Tuesday morning.

The allegations came amid intensified security operation by the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) backed by Somalia National Army (SNA) on Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Lower Shabelle region, destroying several militant bases, checkpoints and explosives including an FM station run by Al-Shabaab.

The allied forces have ramped up offensives against the militants as the African Union forces continue with the drawdown which started with 500 troops last December.

Continue Reading

TRENDING