Somaliland supreme court due to rule on fate of Abdullah Ali, facing execution after being convicted of manslaughter.
The family of a mentally ill man sentenced to death by firing squad in Somalilandhas appealed to the country’s president to intervene to prevent his execution.
The case of Abdullah Ali, who was convicted of shooting and killing a man last year, has prompted an international outcry, with Human Rights Watch declaring it a particularly cruel punishment for someone diagnosed with severe mental health problems.
His sister Faisa Ali said the family had taken the case to the supreme court and was expecting a ruling before the end of the month.
“We are very concerned about him because the supreme court decision will be final and I expect they will agree with the regional court and uphold the death sentence,” said Faisa Ali.
“We are asking the president of Somaliland, Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, to intervene to stop this crime against a mentally ill person.”
Ali, a father of nine from the city of Lasanod, started to suffer from hallucinations, delusions and depression in 2011. He spent two years at the Daryeel hospital in the capital Hargiesa, diagnosed with psychosis.
He was discharged in February last year but his sister said his mental health problems had continued. She said he had become agitated during a reunion with an old friend.
“They had an argument and Ali shot him. We don’t know where he got the weapon but it is very easy to find guns in Somaliland,” she said.
Human Rights Watch researcher Laetitia Bader condemned the court’s decision to sentence Ali to death, despite hearing evidence of his psychiatric problems.
“We oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as an inherently cruel and irreversible punishment,” Bader said. “This case makes these concerns ever more poignant given the apparent lack of a rigorous judicial process and the cruel reality of executing a person who has been diagnosed with a severe disability by one of the very few clinicians with basic psychiatric training in the country.”
The Human Rights Centre in Somaliland, the country’s only human rights watchdog, has also expressed concern about Ali’s treatment and has submitted an appeal to the attorney-general.
Somaliland resumed the death penalty after a nine-year suspension last April when it executed six prisoners by firing squad. The EU condemned their deaths and urged authorities to drop capital punishment.
“This is completely unexpected act is a step back in the progress made in spreading the rule of law in Somaliland,” a statement said. “The EU Heads of Mission strongly and unequivocally oppose the death penalty and consider the death penalty constitutes a series violations of human rights and human dignity.”
According to Amnesty International, at least 10 people were sentenced to death in Somaliland last year.