Connect with us

Somaliland

Somaliland Parliament Passes First Bill Criminalizing Rape

Published

on

WASHINGTON / HARGEISA — The parliament in the self-declared republic of Somaliland has approved a bill criminalizing rape for the first time, and requiring prison terms for individuals convicted of the crime.

The bill, passed Saturday, is the first of its kind in Somaliland criminalizing not only rape but all gender-based violations against women. It lays out a process to investigate the cases and prosecute perpetrators.

The bill now goes to the upper house of parliament and could be the first major legislation signed by President Muse Bihi Abdi who was elected in November.

Women’s organizations and human rights activists in Somaliland welcomed the passage of the bill, which was approved by 46 of the 51 MPs present.

Among those praising the parliamentary approval was Nafisa Yusuf Mohamed, the executive director of Nagaad, a women’s organization based in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

“We have been working on this bill since 2011. It has gone through different processes, but we are very happy that it has been adopted,” she told VOA Somali. “The people of Somaliland have welcomed it, we congratulate the parliament for discharging their duties.”

Under the bill, an attempted rape conviction would carry a four to seven-year jail sentence. An individual who rapes a victim using force or threats would get 15 to 20 years. If the victim is under the age of 15, the perpetrator gets 20 to 25 years.

Attackers who cause bodily harm or infect their victim with HIV in addition to committing rape would receive life in prison.

An increasing number of reported rape cases are related to gang rape. Gang rape was not mentioned in the existing penal code, but the new bill has a specific provision for gang rape which carries 20 to 25 years imprisonment.

Recently, the Somaliland Human Rights Center said rape is one of the least reported crimes in Somaliland. It said that in 2017, 81 rape cases were prosecuted, a small number compared to the number of alleged victims.

No more mediation by elders

In the past, elders have mediated between the families of the rapist and the victim, often leading to a lack of justice for the victim. In few cases, a victim ended up marrying her rapist under pressure from her family or the elders.

Mohamed Hersi Farah is an elder who performed mediations but says he stopped it in 2006.

“Before we intervened in individual cases and we dealt with clans, and there were no laws. But now there are gang rapes with more than 10 people involved [in a case]. We didn’t know where to start,” Farah said.

The new bill criminalizes mediation and other attempts to solve rape cases outside the courts.

“Anyone who attempts or mediate a rape case in this way could go to jail. We hope this will scare those who performed this outside the court who will now realize the government will jail them,” says the chairman of the human rights center, lawyer Guled Ahmed Jama.

Jama says he welcomes the fact the bill specifically focuses on rape and gender based violations and empowers law enforcement agencies powers to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators.

“This is a modern bill specifically on rape, previously rape was just an article under the penal code; this is a comprehensive bill,” he said.

Somaliland declared secession from rest of Somalia in May 1991 but so far failed to gain international recognition.

Barkhad Mohamud Kariye contributed to this report.

Ethiopia

Ethiopian PM says they will continue to develop Berbera Port so Ethiopia and Somaliland can benefit

Published

on

Continue Reading

Somaliland

Rapists in Somaliland will no longer be allowed to marry victims under new law

Published

on

By Lizzie Dearden

The self-declared state of Somaliland has introduced a bill to outlaw rape and other violent sexual crimes for the first time in its history, which would see rapists imprisoned for up to 30 years.

Under the new law, all forms of sexual offences would be criminalised, including rape, gang rape, sexual assault, child marriage and trafficking.

And Africa News reports that rapists who infect their victims with HIV would be handed life sentences.
In the past, a rape victim’s family could force them to marry their rapist to avoid being shamed.

The bill has already been agreed in the lower house of Somaliland’s parliament but still needs approval from the upper house.

It is hoped the bill will be signed into law by President Musa Bihi Adbi on 1 March.

“The bill had been languishing for some years and the newly elected government, which is very serious about tackling violence against women, saw it as a priority to bring it before parliament,” Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland’s representative in Britain, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It is however possible that it will face resistance when it comes before the House of Elders in the coming weeks, as members in the upper house tend to be more traditional.”
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after a civil war.

It has a population of around four million but is not recognised internationally as a country.

Currently, Somalia does not have any laws or legislation against violent sexual crimes.

President Abdi’s government was said to be shocked by the number of reported gang rapes after he came to power in November and pledged to take action.

Although the bill is an important milestone, the United Nations said that more still needed to be done.

“Once it is signed into law, there is need to develop the capacities of the national justice and security actors, non-state actors and service providers to create awareness among the public,” said Fadumo Dayib, head of UN Women in Somalia.

“Every woman and girl has the right to live her life without the threat and fear of violence.
“This law will make a substantial contribution in curtailing sexual violence against women and girls.”

However the law does not specifically cover domestic violence or female genital mutilation, and it would require victims to prove the use of “force, intimidation or threat”.

Countries such as Greece, Iraq, Libya, Kuwait, Thailand and Russia have certain laws in place which mean a rapist can escape prosecution if he or she marries their victim, or in some cases if the victim forgives the rapist.

Continue Reading

Somali News

IN HARGEISA, UN ENVOY CALLS FOR CALM AND DIALOGUE FOLLOWING CLASHES

Published

on

The top United Nations envoy for Somalia has called for calm and dialogue amid reports of clashes between security forces from ‘Somaliland’ and neighbouring Puntland.

“Our position is to try and reduce tensions (and) to increase dialogue very quickly between both sides, so that if there are misunderstandings, these are clarified,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, while in Hargeisa, the capital of ‘Somaliland.’

“If there are genuine differences, then they have to be subject to immediate discussion,” he added. “But resorting to military solutions and to violence is not the way to resolve these problems.”

The UN envoy was speaking at a joint press encounter yesterday with ‘Somaliland’s’ Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire, after having met with ‘Somaliland’s’ President Muse Bihi Abdi – their first meeting since the latter was elected late last year.

Earlier this week, there were reports of clashes between security forces in the Sool region, part of a disputed area claimed by both ‘Somaliland’ and Puntland, located on the north-eastern tip of the Horn of Africa.

In their meeting, Mr. Keating and Mr. Bihi Abdi discussed the new government’s priorities, as well as the latest security issues.

“I was very impressed by and grateful to the President for his commitment, borne from his many decades of personal experience, of the importance of finding peaceful solutions to problems, “ he said, “and that a priority must be to try and prevent violence of any kind, whether in ‘Somaliland,’ or, indeed, between ‘Somaliland’ and others.”

While in Hargeisa, the UN envoy also met with several cabinet ministers to discuss various topics, including education, health, security, the impact of drought and employment, and how the United Nations can best provide support in addressing humanitarian and development challenges in these areas. Similar meetings were subsequently held with civil society representatives.

Part of the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) – which Mr. Keating also heads and which has an office in Hargeisa – is to support ‘Somaliland’ efforts towards a politically stable and democratic system that adheres to the principles of good governance.

Visit to Laas Geel highlights rich heritage and economic potential

The Special Representative also visited the Laas Geel rock shelters, located an hour north-east of Hargesia, and the location of Neolithic paintings dating back several thousands of years.

“One of the reasons I wanted to come here is because it’s good to be reminded that (while) the image of this part of the world is about conflict and so much despair and suffering, and yet it’s also one of the cradles of civilization,” Mr. Keating said.

“So while it’s a resource for the world, it’s also very important for Somalis to know that they are living in a land with great history and traditions and that is changing and is dynamic,” he added.

French researchers came across the site during an archaeological survey of the area in 2002, and it is considered to be one of the oldest rock art sites in Africa and the most important ancient site in ‘Somaliland.’ The paintings depict wild animals, decorated cattle and herders,.

According to local authorities, up to 200 hundred visitors, from the region and abroad, make the trek to the site each month, despite access difficulties and concerns over security.

“That would suggest that the potential is indeed enormous, and not just limited to rock caves, “ said Mr. Keating. “There’s the natural environment, the coast and the beaches are incredible, the potential for tourism is enormous.”

There have been concerns over recent years that the site’s paintings are under threat of serious deterioration from their exposure to the elements as well as local animals.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sent a team to review the site in 2016. It has made recommendations on how to best safeguard it, and is working with local authorities on putting those measures in place.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

TRENDING