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“Halt execution spree of children in Puntland” Amnesty International

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The authorities in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region must immediately halt plans to execute two boys sentenced to death by a military tribunal in February for their alleged role in the armed group Al-Shabaab’s killing of three senior administration officials, said Amnesty International.

The organization has learnt that Muhamed Yasin Abdi, 17, and Daud Saied Sahal, 15, could be put to death at any moment after five other boys -– all aged between 14 and 17 – were executed on 8 April for the killings.

“These five boys were executed following a fundamentally flawed process during which they were tortured to confess, denied access to a lawyer and additional protections accorded to juveniles, and tried in a military tribunal. The lives of the remaining two boys must be spared” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

“The Puntland authorities must not allow more blood on their hands. They should halt the executions and retry the boys in fair proceedings in a juvenile civilian court without recourse to the death penalty.  Those responsible for killing the three administration officials need to be identified and brought to justice – torturing juveniles to confess, subjecting them to an unfair trial and then executing them does not ensure this.”

Family members told Amnesty International that the boys, who they deny were members of the Al-Shabaab militant group, were subjected to electric shock, burnt with cigarettes on their genitals, beaten and raped into confessing to the murders.

“These horrific allegations of torture must be fully and independently investigated and those found responsible held to account. Puntland must also stop the practice of trying civilians in military courts,” said Michelle Kagari.

Amnesty International believes the death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading, and opposes it at all times – regardless of who is accused, the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.

Briefing Room

Somalia’s Puntland region asks UAE to stay as Gulf split deepens

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BOSASO, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region urged the United Arab Emirates not to close its security operations in the country after a dispute with the central government, saying the Gulf power was a key ally in the fight against Islamist militants.

The dispute goes to the heart of an increasingly troubled relationship between Gulf states – divided by their own disputes – and fractured Somalia, whose coastline sits close to key shipping routes and across the water from Yemen.

Analysts have said the complex standoff risks exacerbating an already explosive security situation on both sides of the Gulf of Aden, where militant groups launch regular attacks.

The central Somali government said on Wednesday it was taking over a military training program run by the UAE.

Days later the UAE announced it was pulling out, accusing Mogadishu of seizing millions of dollars from a plane, money it said was meant to pay soldiers.

“We ask our UAE friends, not only to stay, but to redouble their efforts in helping Somalia stand on its feet,” said the office of the president of Puntland, a territory that sits on the tip of the Horn of Africa looking out over the Gulf of Aden.

Ending UAE support, “will only help our enemy, particularly Al Shabaab and ISIS (Islamic State),” it added late on Monday.

SUSPICION, RESENTMENT

The UAE is one of a number of Gulf powers that have opened bases along the coast of the Horn of Africa and promised investment and donations as they compete for influence in the insecure but strategically important region.

That competition has been exacerbated by a diplomatic rift between Qatar and a bloc including the UAE. In turn, those splits have worsened divisions in Somalia.

Puntland, which has said it wants independence, has sought to woo the UAE which runs an anti-piracy training center there and is developing the main port. The central government in Mogadishu last year criticized Puntland for taking sides in the Gulf dispute. Qatar’s ally Turkey is one of Somalia’s biggest investors.

One Somali government official said last week Mogadishu had decided to take over the UAE operation because the Gulf state’s contract to run it had expired. Another official said the government was investigating the money taken from the plane.

The competition among Gulf states in Somalia has fueled accusations of foreign interference and resentment in many corners of Somali society.

The loss of the UAE program could have a destabilizing effect, said one security analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The value of the UAE trained forces was two-fold – they were relatively well trained but, most importantly, they were paid on time,” unlike other parts of the security forces, the analyst told Reuters.

Somalia has been mired in conflict since 1991.

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Briefing Room

Puntland Police on Alert as Somalia Terror Threat Moves North

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For years, Somalia’s northern Puntland state has been more stable than the country’s volatile south, but that picture may be changing. Police in Puntland remain on alert amid a string of attacks over the past year by Al-Shabab and another group of fighters who have joined the Islamic State terror group. For VOA, Jason Patinkin reports from Puntland city of Bossaso.

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Puntland

As climate change parches Somalia, frequent drought comes with conflict over fertile land

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PBS — Desert sand is slowly taking over Somalia. Just six years after the last major drought emergency, the rains have failed again — a devastating trend in a country where around 80 percent of people make their living on the land. Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone report on how climate change is threatening a way of life that has sustained Somalia for millennia.

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