Human rights in Somalia

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Somalia

Human rights in Somalia are guaranteed in the Federal Constitution, which was adopted in August 2012. They fall under the Ministry of Human Rights established in August 2013.[1] The central authorities concurrently inaugurated a National Human Rights Day, endorsed an official Human Rights Roadmap,[2] and completed Somalia's first National Gender Policy.[3] A Human Rights Task Force was also established in February 2013 to firm up on the protection of individual rights.[4] According to the UN's Independent Human Rights Expert on Somalia, local human rights protection has gradually improved as government institutionalization and legislative reform have taken root.[5]

Human Rights Task Force[edit]

Former Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon established the first national Ministry of Human Rights.

In early February 2013, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon launched an Independent Task Force on Human Rights in order to firm up on the protection of individual rights. The 13-member committee of volunteers was formed after extensive consultations with civil society groups and the Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari. Chaired by prominent human rights attorney Maryam Yusuf Sheikh Ali, one of four women on the panel, the Task Force includes an educator, a peace activist, leaders of Somali women's organizations, senior police officers, a humanitarian campaigner, a religious leader, and a media representative. It is tasked with investigating allegations of human rights abuses and journalist intimidation. At the end of its three-month mandate, the committee is scheduled to publish a report on its findings and recommended courses of action. The Task Force will eventually give way to a permanent parliamentary Human Rights Commission, which will have the capacity to investigate allegations over a longer period.[4]

Ministry of Human Rights[edit]

In late August 2013, during a special parliamentary session, Prime Minister Shirdon established the first dedicated national Ministry for Human Rights.[1] The federal authorities concurrently declared 27 August as Somalia's National Human Rights Day. It also endorsed a Human Rights Roadmap, which defines government duties and sets specific benchmarks to be achieved over a two-year timeframe.[2]

On 17 January 2014, new Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed joined the Human Rights portfolio with Women's Affairs to form the Ministry of Women and Human Rights. It is led by Khadijo Mohamed Diriye.[6]

Women's rights[edit]

On August 1, 2012, a new Federal Constitution was adopted, which includes several statutes related to equality as proposed by a Committee of Experts (CoE).[7] Article 11 of the Federal Constitution guarantees equal treatment for all citizens regardless of gender.[8]

Chairperson of the Barnet Muslim Women's Network Hanan Ibrahim addressing the ISSAT (2013).

Women have since obtained greater representation in the public sphere. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, 30% of seats in Somalia's Federal Parliament are legally reserved for women.[9] This quota was secured by Somali parliamentary consultant Hodan Ahmed and women political leaders.[10] Ahmed had also helped form the Somali Women Parliamentary Association in 2009 in the preceding Transitional Federal Parliament.[11] On 4 November 2012, Prime Minister Shirdon likewise appointed two women to the Cabinet, Fowsiyo Yussuf Haji Aadan as the nation's first female Minister of Foreign Affairs and Maryam Qassim as Minister of Social Development.[12]

Parliamentary consultant Hodan Ahmed.

In June 2013, the federal government began drafting the country's first National Gender Policy.[13] Led by Minister Maryam Qassim, the initiative was completed by August and aims to empower women, strengthen gender equality and safeguard women's rights.[3]

According to the UNDP, there was a low overall rate nationwide of sexual violence in 2012, ranging from 2% to 13%.[14] To address the issue, the central authorities as of December 2013 were in the process of forming a special crime unit to investigate and counter gender-based violence, as well as constructing a clinic set aside for victims of sexual assault. The national judiciary, security and police forces were all concurrently receiving specialized gender training as part of the broader reform effort.[15]

According to a 2005 World Health Organization estimate, about 97.9% of Somalia's women and girls underwent female circumcision,[16] a pre-marital custom mainly endemic to Northeast Africa and parts of the Near East.[17][18] Encouraged by women in the community, it is primarily intended to deter promiscuity and to offer protection from assault.[19] By 2013, UNICEF in conjunction with the Somali authorities reported that the prevalence rate among 1 to 14 year old girls in the autonomous northern Puntland and Somaliland regions had dropped to 25% following a social and religious awareness campaign.[20] Article 15 of the Federal Constitution also officially prohibits the practice.[8]

Prominent human rights activists include the constitutional Committee of Experts member Hanan Ibrahim, who serves as the Chairperson of the Barnet Muslim Women's Network, and Fartuun Adan and her daughter Ilwad Elman, founders of the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre.

Children's rights[edit]

Article 29 of Somalia's national constitution defines a child as any individual under the age of 18, and stipulates that "every child has the right to be protected from mistreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation."[8]

According to UNICEF, 82% of children in Somalia in 2006 reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods during the day. 13% felt rather safe, 4% indicated that they don't know/it depends, while 0% reported feeling unsafe. With regard to night-time safety, 53% of children reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods, with 25% feeling rather safe, 4% indicating that they feel rather unsafe, 1% reporting that they feel very unsafe, while 16% stated that they don't know/it depends. Regarding incidences of violence among family/friends and against children, 72% of urban children reported no such incidents, whereas 20% responded affirmatively. 90% of children indicated that they were not themselves the victims of violence, while 10% reported that they were. Of the types of violence experienced by family/friends and by the children, the majority consisted of robbery (37%), followed by assault (28%), rape (19%), family member killed (11%), verbal assault (11%), genocide/war (8%), abduction (6%), being beat/caned seriously (4%), quarreling (3%), and uncertain (2%).[21]

Regarding the extent of trust they had in different societal groups, the children indicated that they most trusted their mother (85% totally; 7% quite) and their father (71% totally; 15% quite). They also asserted that they least trusted the police (3% not very much; 7% not at all) and the mass media (3% not very much; 5% not at all). Additionally, the majority of children reported being aware of their rights (78%), with their right to education (72%), right not to be hurt or mistreated (63%), and right to health (62%) most widely recognized. With regard to the extent to which various rights are respected in Somalia, most children felt that their main rights were respected, including the right to education (58% totally; 19% quite; 3% not quite; 1% not at all; 11% don't know; 7% no response), right not to be mistreated (46% totally; 24% quite; 4% not quite; 5% not at all; 14% don't know; 8% no response), and right to health (52% totally; 22% quite; 3% not quite; 3% not at all; 12% don't know; 7% no response). Regarding their general state of happiness, 86% of children reported feeling happy, 10% were neither happy nor unhappy, and 3% were unhappy. A majority of the children also indicated that the quality of their relationship with their parents was very good (72%), followed by good (17%).[21]

In terms of the proportion of children working for money, 93% reported that they don't work. 6% indicated that they were carrying out a regular part-time job, 6% stated that they were carrying out an occasional or part-time job, and 4% asserted that they were carrying out a full-time job. 64% of children reported not being engaged in unpaid work, 20% indicated that they were carrying out a regular unpaid part-time job, 15% stated that they were carrying out an occasional part-time unpaid job, and 0% indicated that they were carrying out a full-time unpaid job.[21]

Minority rights[edit]

Article 11 of the national constitution stipulates that the state must not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, colour, tribe or ethnicity.[8]

The Gabboye occupational clans, which include the numerically few Madhiban, Yibir and Tumaal (collectively referred to as sab), have over the years obtained political representation within Somalia. Their general social status has correspondingly improved with the expansion of urban centers.[22] However, due to their foreign, non-Somali origins, people from the Bantu ethnic minority group still often face societal marginalization.[23]

In 2013, the federal government announced that it would establish its Directorate General for Human and Minority Rights and Rule of Law within the Office of the Prime Minister.[24]

Freedom House index[edit]

The following chart shows Somalia's ratings since 1972 on Freedom House's annual Freedom in the World index. A rating of 1 is "free"; 7, "not free".[25]1

International treaties[edit]

International human rights treaties that Somalia has signed or ratified include:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

1.^ Note that the "Year" signifies the "Year covered". Therefore the information for the year marked 2008 is from the report published in 2009, and so on.
2.^ The 1982 report covers the year 1981 and the first half of 1982, and the following 1984 report covers the second half of 1982 and the whole of 1983. In the interest of simplicity, these two aberrant "year and a half" reports have been split into three year long reports through extrapolation.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Somalia takes human rights steps". UPI. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Somalia: UN expert hails human rights effort but urges broader consultation process". UN News Centre. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "SOMALIA: AU Special Representative reiterates AMISOM's commitment in protecting the rights of women and vulnerable members of Society". AMISOM. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Prime Minister's Media Office (5 February 2013). "Somalia: Somali PM launches Human Rights Task Force and attacks "culture of impunity"". Horseed Media. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "UN gives Somalia a vote of confidence for human rights progress". Horseed Media. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "SOMALIA PM Said "Cabinet will work tirelessly for the people of Somalia"". Midnimo. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Press Release - Somali Government establishes Committee of Experts on Draft Constitution". Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d "The Federal Republic of Somalia - Provisional Constitution". Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "Somalia (House of the People)". Inter-Parliamentary Union. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  10. ^ "April 12-13, 2013 - Preliminary Program". McDonough Leadership Center. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "Hodan Ahmed". National Democratic Institute. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Somalia: Prime Minister Unveils His New Cabinet". Shabelle Media Network. 4 November 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Somali government, AMISOM to draft national gender policy". Sabahi. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Somalia Human Development Report 2012". UNDP. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Somalia President Hassan applauds Somali women for fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable". Horseed Media. 4 December 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Prevalence of FGM". Who.int. 2010-12-09. Retrieved 2010-12-30. 
  17. ^ Rose Oldfield Hayes (1975). "Female genital mutilation, fertility control, women's roles, and the patrilineage in modern Sudan: a functional analysis". American Ethnologist 2 (4): 617–633. doi:10.1525/ae.1975.2.4.02a00030. 
  18. ^ Herbert L. Bodman, Nayereh Esfahlani Tohidi (1998) Women in Muslim societies: diversity within unity, Lynne Rienner Publishers, p. 41, ISBN 1555875785.
  19. ^ Suzanne G. Frayser, Thomas J. Whitby (1995) Studies in human sexuality: a selected guide, Libraries Unlimited, p. 257, ISBN 156308131.
  20. ^ "Somalia: Female genital mutilation down". Associated Press via The Jakarta Post. 16 April 2013. Retrieved 17 May 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c "What Children and Youth Think - Somalia". UNICEF. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  22. ^ Lewis, I.M. (2008). Understanding Somalia and Somaliland: Culture, History, Society. Columbia University Press. p. 8. ISBN 0231700849. 
  23. ^ L. Randol Barker et al., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7 edition, (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins: 2006), p.633
  24. ^ "Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights". UN Watch. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  25. ^ Freedom House (2012). "Country ratings and status, FIW 1973-2012" (XLS). Retrieved 2012-08-22. 
  26. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 1. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Paris, 9 December 1948". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  27. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 2. International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. New York, 7 March 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  28. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 3. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  29. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 4. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  30. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 5. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. New York, 16 December 1966". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  31. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 6. Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. New York, 26 November 1968". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  32. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 7. International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. New York, 30 November 1973". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  33. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 18 December 1979". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  34. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 9. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. New York, 10 December 1984". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  35. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11. Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York, 20 November 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  36. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 12. Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty. New York, 15 December 1989". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  37. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 13. International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. New York, 18 December 1990". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  38. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 8b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. New York, 6 October 1999". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  39. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11b. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  40. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11c. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. New York, 25 May 2000". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  41. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  42. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 15a. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. New York, 13 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
  43. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 16. International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. New York, 20 December 2006". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 
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  45. ^ United Nations. "United Nations Treaty Collection: Chapter IV: Human Rights: 11d. Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a communications procedure . New York, 19 December 2011. New York, 10 December 2008". Retrieved 2012-08-29. 

External links[edit]