Op-Ed: Briefing The Current Human Right Situation in Somaliland


Briefing The Current Human Right Situation in Somaliland


The Republic of Somaliland (hereinafter called “SL”) is an independent country located east Africa, bordered Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, and the Gulf of Aden at the red sea. SL declared it’s on May-18-1991, in a conference held burao by the elders and traditional leaders across the country. Somaliland is the leading beacon of stability, peace and democracy in the horn and held more democratic election less than two decades.

The beginning of the 21th-century was a great achievement to the SL government and its people, hence Somaliland people voted a constitution through a democratic referendum which was allowed by the majority of the voters. The new constitution in line with the international standards of human rights, guarantee rights and give priority the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.

Nevertheless, the situation of human rights in Somaliland aggravated and successive governments did not seem to do more on progressive and develop the country’s human rights record. Usually, human rights violations occur by either the actions or omissions of the government or its agencies.

“Somaliland has not improved its human rights record. All the reports of HRC since the inception in 2013 show that the government is not positively changing” says the HRC chairwomen Yasmin Omar H. Mohamoud.

Each year violations against human rights occur in the country, including the oppression of freedom of expression and opinion, arrests without a court warrant and police impunity. The recently approved police law which made them accountable civilian courts and observable by the neutral body were suspended and amended its articles to the police with military status.

Human Rights Centre (HRC Somaliland) is the only local human rights watchdog based in Somaliland. The Centre publishes each year annual review report which covers the situation of human rights on human beings in the country.

Ultimately we shed the light and deeply consider the violations against human rights which occurred in SL last year which recorded by HRC.

  1. Arbitral arrests 

Arbitrary arrests and detention are violations of the right to liberty. Each person has the right to enjoy liberty in accordance with the law. However arbitrary arrest becomes common in SL, the constitution of SL guarantee the right to liberty and free from arbitrary arrest mention that no one shall be deprived his/her liberty if not there on the issuance of a warrant of arrest by a competent judge. On 2019 the records show the increasing number of arbitrary arrests and detentions against freedom of citizens were committed by the government. Police are the only body which made those arrests. HRC Somaliland has recorded 88 people were arrested. Journalists are the prominent target of the government in the cases related to freedom of opinion, several 29 journalists were arrested last year. The other 59 victims of arbitrary arrest were not journalists, including prominent Waddani party leaders. Most of the arrested people were not prosecuting charges and later released. The police, when they conduct such arrests not even allowed to meet their relatives or friends, which violates the rights of arrested persons. Nowadays the Attorney General submitted to the court a charge sheet against the Chairman for Justice and Development political party (UCID) Faisal Ali Waraabe. The allegation was related after the chairman accused the president to let the country family business and of corruption. The Interior Secretary of UCID party Mr Ramah also remained the jail.

  1. Right to Assembly not allowed

Right to assembly is another principle of human rights which the government disregards. The constitution art 32(2) which says “Every citizen shall have the freedom, in accordance with the law, to organize or participate in any peaceful assembly or demonstration.” However last year the government imposed sanctions against the right to assembly and refuse to display openly such peaceful assemblies organizing by opposition political party Waddani and homeless children who gathered to complain and told their situation of life before the Ministry of Employment, Social and Family Affairs, HRC reported. The situation becomes aggravated if the government and its agencies stopped such illegal acts against its citizens and respect the right to gather assembly and peaceful demonstrations as the constitution laid down.

  1. Police Violations 

The function of the police is to provide protection of life and property to the citizens and prevent crimes and other illegal acts. In SL police there is an ongoing complaint against some members of the police regarding their public ethics is not good and police brutality becomes widespread. The police sometimes execute beating acts against citizens in public places. For example, the Wajaale district police brutally beating women in the city were seen.

As reported HRC police sometimes execute extrajudicial acts, cracking down of public and peaceful protests and using unnecessary excessive force, the police use excessive force against any public rallies not authorized by the government. The Somaliland police force Law No: 63/2017 was repealed and replaced by current Law No: 63/2019, after police didn’t satisfy the content of this law including police accountability, liability and keep the police more civilian status rather than military status. However, the previous law was held the police accountable to their acts, and if the police committed a crime such as torture or other inhuman crimes, the Attorney General shall have the power to prosecute him/her, and thus encouraged civilian to submit their complaints easily. Whereas the newly amended law put the police accountability under the army prosecution and thus discourage the civilian to submit any complaint against the police. Finally, the SL police shall act in accordance with the constitution and their status must remain civilian law enforcement not military.

  1. Gender-based violence (GBV)

Gender-based violence is common and widespread throughout the country. Violations against women including rape, FGM, sexual offences and discriminations by gender occur frequently. Due to the absence of laws protect women and girls the violations increasing drastically, and the government does not seem to give priority. 460 rape offences have been reported last year according to HRC. In Somali culture the perpetrators have given impunity and not punished, victims were forced to marry their rapists, due to Interferences of traditional leaders and given the victim relatives compensation (Xaal) in Somali. The government has not yet taken apparent action against sexual violence. The rape Law No: 78/2018 remained not enforceable.

Finally, human rights violations occur frequently throughout the country by the actions or omissions of the government or its agencies. For that reason the situation becomes aggravated if the state organs shall not observe the constitution, the international human rights instruments and other declarations, the government also shall take proactive measures protecting and keeping safe the situation of human rights.

Ahmed Yusuf




The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.

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