April 30 - May 7, 2015
1. Detained Human Rights Activist Released from Prison
On 18 April 2015, Guleid Ahmed Jama was arrested by authorities in Hargeisa, Somaliland, after criticizing the Somaliland government’s astonishing use of capital punishment in a radio interview on the BBC Somali news service. A notable lawyer and activist, Jama is the chair of The Human Rights Centre in Somaliland, one of the few organizations of its kind in the country. Detained on 20 April by the Regional Court of Hargeisa, his release from prison was delayed 11 days and the terms of his bail are still unclear. In a press release published by The Human Rights Centre, the organization reiterates its commitments to its advocacy, impartiality, and defiance in the face of government intimidation.
Independent, Private Media
“Detained Human Rights Activist Guleid Ahmed Jama Released”
Somaliland Sun, 6 May 2015. English.
- SOMALILAND: Jama, a prominent human rights activist and Somaliland lawyer that was detained in April, has been released from prison on bail
- The conditions of bail, remain unknown and undisclosed to the public
- It is unclear whether or not the charges against him have been dropped
2. Foreign Minister Omer Calls Yemeni Refugees “Biggest Challenge” to Somalia
Since the onslaught of violence in Yemen, hundreds of refugees have crossed the Gulf of Aden to get to Somalia, Somaliland, and Djibouti, in order to escape fighting and Saudi airstrikes. At this time, Yemen is home to more than 238,000 Somali refugees, many of whom are coming back to their still troubled homeland to escape imminent terror in Yemen. Concerns are being raised in Somalia over potential recriminations against Somali refugees in Yemen, after the Somali government declared support for Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi fighters – the Berbera airport in Somaliland was allowed to be used as a launching pad for Saudi airstrikes into Yemen.
In addition, Somali Foreign Minister has raised concerns regarding potential problems with the new and returning refugees, specifically in complicating and accentuating the already rampant militant extremism that the Somali government already struggles with. Minister Omer expressed concern with the “Somalis who are radicalized [that will] come back. Yemenis who are radicalized by ISIS and Al-Qaeda will come back, and that is a big challenge, that will reverse the gains we have made.” With the government housing reservations about the migration of thousands of refugees, the already crippled economy and infrastructure of Somalia barely able to accommodate services for its own population, the plight of the incoming refugees is terrifying at worse, and disconcerting at best.
This crisis comes at a time where Somali refugees in Kenya also face a precarious situation – possible forced eviction from Kenya’s Dadaab camp back to Somalia. Antonio Guterres of the UNHCR met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, and assured the international community that no such deporation will take place outside of the parameters of an agreement between the government of Kenya, Somalia, and the UNHCR.
Independent, Private Media
“Yemen’s Refugees Pose a Threat to Somalia” Goobjoog News, 7 May 2015.
Originally published in The Washington Post. English.
- SOMALIA-SOMALILAND: The conflict in Yemen has prompted the UNHCR to predict that up to 100,000 Yemeni refugees will arrive in Somalia in the next six months
- According to UNHCR, nearly 1000 refugees have already reached Somalia, many of which include Somalis who fled to Yemen since the political collapse of 1991
- Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer has expressed concern about the potential for radicalized Yemenis and Somalis entering the already weak Somalia
3. US Secretary of State visits Somalia
John Kerry’s decision to meet with Somali officials unannounced was seen by many as an unprecedented move to strengthen ties between the US and Somalia. Others see Kerry’s unannounced visit, coupled with the 2013 American recognition of the Mohamud administration and the increase in US diplomatic presence in Somalia, as indirectly legitimizing the questionable behaviour of the Somali government.
According to state-owned media sources, Kerry gave substantial praise to the Somali President and his administration for supposedly making a lot of progress in the country. But with the rampant gender and sexual violence perpetrated by government authorities, Somalia’s ranking as the world’s most dangerous place for journalists, the constant crackdown on free press and expression, and the long and abusive reign of armed groups, such progress is difficult to ascertain.
In his meeting, Kerry failed to call upon the need for government accountability, respect for the rule of law, the prevention of and response to the mistreatment and suffering of vulnerable communities, overcoming poverty and malnutrition, and encouraging free speech and media from the central and regional authorities. Had he done so in the wake of renewed diplomatic ties he could have taken the first step to change the plight of many Somalis, whose rights will continue to be unprotected under the maintenance of the status quo. Unfortunately, Kerry’s visit and his words of support only maintain such violations and injustice, and do not in fact pave a positive way forward for any of the parties involved.
Independent, Private Media
Kerry’s Lost Opportunity in Mogadishu
Goobjoog News, 7 May 2015. Originally published by Human Rights Watch. English.
- MOGADISHU: Kerry’s meeting with Somali government officials was a lost opportunity when considering what critical discussion points should have been made but were not
- The real benefit to Somalians would have been if Kerry had taken the opportunity to publicly press the government to undertake desperately needed reforms
- Kerry should have called on the government to do more to prevent and respond to abuses against some of the country’s most vulnerable – including the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced, as well as the victims of widespread sexual and gender-based violence and exploitation
- Kerry also should have highlighted to importance of accountability and respect for rule of law, and freedom of the press and expression for the sake of a successful free and strong Somalian civil society
“President, Prime Minister of Somalia meet US Secretary of State, John Kerry in Mogadishu”
Radio Muqdisho, 6 May 2015. English.
- MOGADISHU: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, joined by Somali Prime Minister and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Planning and Telecommunications, met with Secretary Kerry to discuss “issues critical to the cooperation of both governments and the future of Somalia”
- President Mohamud presented areas where further improvement is necessary, and requested support from the US government for current and future nation-building initiatives
- Secretary Kerry reiterated the US’s support for the Somali government’s efforts to strengthen domestic and national security, as well as political administrations
- Kerry also made clear that the US was well on its way to establishing a fully functioning US Embassy in Mogadishu in order to emphasize diplomatic commitment to Somalia
- Kerry also met with leaders of regional administrations, and publicly praised the level of cooperation between the federal and regional governments, as well as the progress in the country made possible by the contributions of all the Somali leaders