Following the Somali Diaspora community campaign a head of the London Somali conference in May 2017 to constructively demand for more accountability against AMISOM human rights brutality in Somalia, AMISOM contacted the community requesting a meeting on Friday 12th May 2017 in London with the view to listening our community concerns and also providing update of the AMISOM Mission in Somalia. The meeting was attended by the members of the Somali Community in London where there was robust exchanges of views on both sides. AMISOM showed commitment to engagement and promised to address concerns expressed by the community in relation to human rights abuses committed by their forces.
This month AMISOM has put their version of the meeting with the community on their website, hailing the meeting as a success, contrary to the evidence on the ground. Below is the Amisom quarterly magazine AMISOM Magazine – Issue 21 – English
From the evidence we have seen this week of AMISOM troops recklessly hitting and ramming their heavy armoured military vehicles onto innocent drivers and families on broad day light, in full view of the public from stone’s throw of Mogadishu CID Offices, shows a complete contempt for Somali lives and Somali authority Video of AMISOM vehicles ramming into a civilian car. It appears AMISOM is more interested in pleasing their donors with glossy magazines/public relations stunts and window dressing rather than containing the abuse and behaviours of their troops.
The incident below shows a complete disregard for human life and further summarises the complete impunity they enjoy over the killings of innocent Somali lives. AMISOM should refrain from PR stunts because the evidences of human rights abuses being committed in Somalia is most compelling and troubling to say the least. To have a meaningful engagement, AMISOM and African Union leaders should be prepared to provide leadership and commitment to a new approach to human rights abuses in Somalia. This is in the direct interest of the AMISOM Mission and Somalia.
For example, I have case where AMISOM military personnel/vehicle made hit and run, killing an innocent child. When the family members of deceased sought answers from AMISOM officials, the family members were told to provide the vehicle registration number which run- over their child. You can sense here the unacceptable accountability and lack of recording system in place. This is a failure of international leadership and accountability for clear human rights violations, indirectly implicating donor countries.
The following mechanism agreed by the international community to resolve human rights abuses by AMISOM is available within the UN mandate and other agreements but is not fully functional, chaotic, lacks international donor oversight, transparency and in need of rebut. It’s well intentioned by design. However, it is not fit for purpose to safeguard and protect the Somali citizens from human rights violations.
The mechanism in place in cases of human rights state that: there should be casualty tracking system for deaths caused by AMISOM. This is not effective and transparent.
The International Community agreed a compensation plan for unnecessary deaths and abuse caused by AMISOM but evidence suggest this not operational at a compensation plan level, lacking coordination and transparency.
Standing claims commission should be set up by AMISOM in partnership with the Somali Government. Evidence of a case I have submitted to African Union HQ in Addis Ababa and UK Foreign Office, Somali Desk, suggests this is not operational or even on the raider of AMISOM/African Union and international community.
According to a report to the UN Security Councilt by HE Antonia Gutterres, UN Secretary General Secretary in May 2017 Report of the UN Secretary-General on Somalia stated: a total of 134 civilian deaths and 200 injuries were attributed to AlShabaab or “unidentified persons” in the first four months of this year 2017, a 47 per cent increase from the same period last year. Somali security forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) accounted for a combined total of 74 civilian deaths during the past four months. The UN Security Council report (page 9) is very clear that 20 civilian deaths are specifically attributed to AMISOM forces between January 2017 to April 2017. However, since the civilian casualty system is not effective, the number of unreported casualties could be much higher than reported. Based on the behaviour of AMISOM and the clear evidence of lack of coordinated international compensation plan, it is highly likely these victims have yet to receive justice and accountability for their deceased family members.
The international partners that assembled at the London Somali Conference on 11th May 2017, were privately and public informed of the human rights abuses of AMISOM. I have with my community Diaspora colleagues given a formal letter and file to HE President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, UN Representative HE Ambassador Michael Keating and former UK Africa Minister Tobias EllWood, containing evidence of reports and cases relating to the human rights abuses being committed by AMISOM. I am sorry to say, but with further evidence of human right abuses re–surfacing this week on full view of the public, they are all sleeping on the job in relation to commitment to human rights abuses and crimes being committed by AMISOM troops against innocent Somali citizens who are already burdened with enormous social, economical and security challenges.
While I believe the international effort towards Somalia is well intentioned, is to be appreciated and welcomed, they have failed to provide a concrete leadership to human rights abuses committed by AMISOM troops. One can understand Alshabaab is being ambushed with F16s and drones with heavy losses for the human right crimes/abuses they have committed against the Somali public and international partners engaged in Somalia. The key question facing the international partners in Somalia is – Who Guard the Guardians for the human rights abuses against innocent civilians by AMISOM troops? Who guards the Guardians
Having personally raised these issues with UK Foreign Office Ministers, Somalia’s President and the UN, I sense the root cause of these human right abuses can also be attributed to self-serving political culture that has built up over the years. There is unofficial view, which sees the AMISOM Mission far greater than any human rights violations. AMISOM mission is critical to defeating Alshabaab and providing protection to the Somali government. The international community is also in great need of AMISOM to combat terrorism and help provide security and stability for Somalia as a fragile state that is recovering and re-emerging from state failure. This inter- complex interdependence has created a political culture that has given space or political convenience for inaction, which has failed to tackle AMISOM human rights abuses, giving AMISOM a free reign to commit further abuses. This political environment has conveniently taken hostage to accountability of AMISOM troops.
It is also worth mentioning Alshabaab also makes the same calculation when they bomb restaurants, killing innocent people. When they are asked why they have killed innocent waiters and other vulnerable citizens in their pursuit of attacking Somali government officials, their responds also stipulates that their mission/operations (however bonkers it is) is far greater than the human right abuses they are engaged in. Whether such killings of innocent people are intentional or not – is not here or there. What matters is that innocent lives have been lost damaging families and the sanctity of life. Under these circumstances, the international partners engaged in Somalia should take these human rights violations seriously and robustly, implementing and strengthening the above policies more effectively and transparently.
If already not the case, failure to act immediately and decisively would also mean that the AMISOM Mission in Somalia will become part of the problem rather than the solution. I would like to encourage the international community not to trade off human rights abuses against vulnerable Somali citizens by AMISOM troops with the aims of the mission. This would be grave error of political and military judgement of which the Alshabaab terrorist will eventually capitalise on, if they are not already doing it so.
To continue with the current path of diplomatic dance and grave inaction on the serious human rights abuses caused by AMISOM, I fear the AMISOM Mission and the international partners engaged in Somalia will sleep walk into a form of legitimised international terrorism under the auspices of the United Nations. Where that would leave the battle against violent extremism is for anyone’s guess: They might as well pack their bags from Somalia leaving with a catastrophic vacuum.
By Mohamed Ibrahim