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FCO Human Rights Report 2010
FCO Human Rights Report 2010

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Published by: Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Mar 26, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The Transitional Federal Government is committed to upholding the UniversalDeclaration of Human Rights and to preventing human rights abuses in areasof its control. However, it lacks the power and capacity to deal effectively withmany of the systematic human rights abuses that occur. Successfulpresidential elections were held in Somaliland and were judged byinternational observers to have reflected the will of the voters. The newgovernment in Somaliland made a commitment to improving the human rightssituation there.Continued opposition from insurgent groups in southern and central Somaliaprevented the Transitional Federal Government from extending its authoritybeyond approximately half of the capital city, Mogadishu. Insurgent groups ,such as al-Shabaab, remained in control of much of southern and centralSomalia and continued to perpetrate serious acts of violence against civiliansthroughout the region. Somaliland and Puntland in the north offered greater stability, though reports of human rights abuses were still common.The unstable security situation in 2010 prevented us from directly monitoringand verifying human rights abuses or from being able to apply pressure or push for changes and improvements. Nevertheless, we raised human rightsviolations with the Transitional Federal Government and the Somalilandgovernment at every appropriate opportunity and met with a number of humanrights groups and NGOs throughout the course of the year. The internationalcommunity remained focused on the human rights situation in Somalia,notably holding a discussion on this issue during the UN Human RightsCouncil meeting in Geneva in September. As a result of this session, theGeneva Friends of Somalia group was formed, mandated to improvecoordination among those working in the human rights and humanitarianassistance fields in Somalia. We were a founding member of this group .
The human rights situation in Somalia is unlikely to improve significantly in2011. The Transitional Federal Government is due to end its transitionalperiod in August 2011, but this is unlikely to have an impact on the humanrights situation in the short term. In the time leading up to the end of thetransitional period, we hope the Transitional Federal Government will continueto strive for peace, through the development of the security sector and theprovision of public services for citizens.We will continue to work for greater stability in Somalia, which will allow for better rule of law and improved human rights conditions. We will invest inprojects aimed at developing the security sector and communities. This inturn should undermine the influence of extremist groups, such as al-Shabaab.Access to Somalia for UK officials is likely to remain very infrequent and sowe do not anticipate a significant improvement in our ability to monitor directlythe human rights situation on the ground.
Successful presidential elections were held in Somaliland in June after adelay of almost two years. These elections were deemed by local andinternational observersto reflect the will of the voters. We provided significantassistance to the Somaliland elections in political, technical and financialterms and were the largest bilateral donor.
Access to justice
The majority of Somalis do not have access to justice. The TransitionalFederal Government's judicial system lacks the capacity to deal with war crimes and crimes against humanity. For most people, justice is largelyconducted at local and clan levels with little oversight from the state. The lawis a mixture of jurisprudence inherited from colonial times, Sharia andclan/customary law. These are inconsistent in implementation and can limitaccess to justice, particularly for women. Somalia retains the use of the deathpenalty. The extent of its use is not known.
The Somaliland and Puntland judicial systems have more central control witha hierarchy of courts established up to a Supreme Court. The Somalilandjudicial system in particular provides for the right to legal representation; toappeal; to the presumption of innocence; and to appear before a court within48 hours of arrest. However, only a small number of judges in Somalilandhave the necessary legal qualifications to practise law. In 2010 we supportedthe UN Development Programme in training more judges, supporting theestablishment of a new legal framework and providing free legal aid todefendants in both Somaliland and Puntland. However, the security situationand underdeveloped constitutional frameworks limits substantial progress inthis area.In areas under al-Shabaab¶s control, citizens are often denied access tojustice and receive disproportionate punishments for alleged crimescommitted. Individuals are often forced to admit to their crime, whether theyare guilty or not. Punishments include public floggings, amputations andexecutions. For example, in October, two teenagers were sentenced to deathby firing squad after being accused of spying. Residents were ordered toobserve the killing.
ule of law
As the Transitional Federal Government controlled approximately half of thecapital city, Mogadishu, throughout 2010, the rule of law in Somalia wasinconsistent. Rule of law remained a priority for us and we focused on thedevelopment of local and regional administrations. Developing and enablingrule of law was a key task for the Transitional Federal Government, althoughprogress was hampered by political infighting.Puntland and Somaliland also made a real commitment to developing the ruleof law in their regions, with the latter committing itself to abolish the extrajudicial ³security committees´. These committees often sent citizens to prisonwithout due process of law.

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