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Human rights in Somalia are extremely poor and serious human rights violations are a problem due to the unstable political situation in the country. Somalia has not had a central government since President Mohamed Siad Barre fled the country in 1991. Even during the Siad Barre regime, civil rights violations and oppression had led directly to the Somali Civil War.

Although a Transitional National Government (TNG) was established in 2000 at the Djibouti Conference, followed by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004. The TFG authorized the Transitional Federal Charter which guaranteed many civil rights, but the nascent government did not have much authority over the nation to enforce laws or ensure those rights. De facto power is held by the unrecognized independent entity of Somaliland, the autonomous governments of Puntland, Southwestern Somalia, Jubaland, Galmudug, and various warlords.

Some progress in establishment of civil administration was made during the control of south and central Somalia by the Islamic Courts Union (ICU). Certain rights were done away with under strict sharia law, in exchange for a focus on safety and security.

With the military defeat of the ICU, the TFG leaders moved into the capital of Mogadishu at the beginning of 2007.


Police Brutality

Even during the administration of Siad Barre, the law enforcement, judicial, and penal systems were harsh, often horrific and corrupt. A decade without a central government has done little to improve the situation in most of the country. A broad range of new institutions and security sector reforms are needed.

Justice is enforced by both police forces and factional militia, both of which have committed many human rights abuses in the past. Kidnappings by militia groups to obtain ransom money are common. Arbitrary arrests are a problem. Prison conditions are extremely poor and dangerous. Overcrowding, dangerous health conditions, and abuse by guards exist in Somali prisons. Reports exist of Puntland and militia groups using torture against each other and civilians[1].

Under the Islamic Courts, strict sharia law was applied, issuing edicts which could result in summary justice by armed militias or severe rulings by courts.

An entirely new justice system is a priority of the new government. As militias are being demobilized, a new national police force is being instituted. The first members of the new judiciary were sworn for Banadir in January 2007. However, with the concurrent imposition of martial law means there are few constraints on the members of the military.

Restriction of Freedoms

Due to the imposition of martial law, freedom of speech, press, assembly, association, religion, and movement are all restricted on a de facto basis. Many of these rights are formally guaranteed de jure by the 2004 Transitional Federal Charter, yet the government has not been in any position to guarantee them, and in cases, has specifically abridged them.

Harassment and detention of journalists have occurred across the country, both by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and under the Islamic Courts Union. Somaliland has banned political demonstrations, and Puntland has outlawed opposition parties. Checkpoints around Somalia are manned by militia, who have at times extorted or killed civilians attempting to travel through the country. The right to privacy is also restricted.

On January 15 the TFG ordered independent radio and television stations closed down, citing national security. The next day, the media outlets were allowed to operate again.

Without a civil administration, ownership of weapons mushroomed, especially assault rifles, as did the possession of light weapons such as rocket launchers, antiaircraft guns, mortars and other explosives. The ICU and the TFG both imposed strict forms of gun control.

Women's Rights

Violence and discrimination against women, including genital mutilation, is common. The rape of women by militia and bandits is a problem, and there are no laws against spousal rape. [2]

Political activism for women's rights, led by Asha Haji Elmi's "Sixth Clan" women's movement, led to representation in the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). However, the Transitional Federal Charter requires 12% of the Parliament seats (33 seats) be reserved for women. However, in the November 2004 selections of MPs, only 8% were filled by women. [3]

Child Abuse

Child abuse, including child labor and human trafficking, is a problem. The United Nations has listed Somalia as a country in which the use of child soldiers exists[4]. Many youths join armed gangs and militia groups.[5 ]

Persecution of Minorities

Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities is a problem. In some areas gunmen have coerced minorities into forced labor. Intermarriage between minority groups and the ethnic Somali majority are outlawed, and they generally have restricted access to health care and education.

See also


External links



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