Kenya and Ethiopia are facing fresh accusations of supporting pro-government militia in Somalia who continue to violate human rights and international humanitarian law..
A report by the Human Rights Watch released last week details how the Al Shabaab, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), their allied militia, the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, and the militias supported by Kenya and Ethiopia, have routinely violated human rights.
Neela Ghoshal, the Human Rights Watch officer in charge of research in East Africa, argued that despite the inadequate international monitoring due to the ongoing conflict, cases of summary execution through beheading and indiscriminate counter attacks on civilians are a common occurrence.
Kenya and Ethiopia have also been accused of providing arms to militias supporting TFG without ensuring that these groups respect human rights.
While Kenya is trying to create a buffer zone known as Jubaland by training and arming groups that border her north eastern tip of the country, Ethiopia supports the pro-TFG Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa. The activities of these parties have affected humanitarian assistance in virtually all areas despite the ongoing famine.
“It is a daily battle to provide humanitarian assistance in Al Shabaab held areas. Even in areas that have been captures by TFG, the human rights situation has not improved,” said Ms Ghoshal, while launching the report, You Don’t Know Who to Blame
She emphasized that the UN, AU, EU and US which support the TFG financially should set out clear benchmarks for improving respect for international human rights and accountability.
The major culprit is the Al-Shabaab that continues to carry out public beheadings and flogging, and forceful recruitment of adults and children. Similarly, the population in areas controlled by TFG and its allies has been subjected to arbitrary arrests and detention, restrictions on free speech and assembly and indiscriminate attacks.
In Mogadishu, Amisom has for months been accused of shelling civilian populated areas while returning the Al Shabaab mortars. But Amisom has always insisted that it is the Al Shabaab that launches attacks from residential areas forcing them to return immediate fire.
However, the TFG spokesperson, Abdirahman Omar Osman, refuted the allegations arguing that everybody knows that Al-Shabaab is responsible for human rights violations in Somalia.
“It is with great regret that we receive these allegations, especially without being given us the opportunity to respond before the publication. The Somali people, especially those in Mogadishu, know that their soldiers never knowingly place them in danger.
He said Somalia had fulfilled its international obligation by submitting a National Report on the human rights situation in the country to the UN Human Rights Council in May.
However, Mr Osman offered that the Somali government will investigate these allegations and all perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions.
Mr Mitchel observed that the withdrawal of Al Shabaab has given a chance to the TFG to stabilise the situation in terms of justice and security.
He hopes that the Somali government will now institute a political process involving dialogue that will culminate in elections in a year’s time.
Source: The East African