Somali Shabaab leaders should be tried for famine crimes – report

Posted on 04/10/2011


 Somalia’s al Shabaab leaders should be tried for crimes against humanity for a famine which has put 750,000 people at risk of starvation, a United Nations analyst has said.

“Somalia’s famine is less a symptom of conflict or climate than of callous and criminal human conduct — including crimes against humanity that demand consequences anchored in international justice,” said Matt Bryden, coordinator of the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, in a report for the advocacy group Enough.

Some four million hungry Somalis need aid due to drought and war, but agencies are unable to reach the majority. Al Shabaab rebels affiliated to al Qaeda will not allow aid into the famine-stricken areas they control in southern Somalia.

The United States ban on aid to terrorist groups – which is how it designates al Shabaab also prevents agencies providing assistance to people living under the Islamists.

An official with the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF estimates that of 160,000 severely malnourished children in the famine zone, only 7,000 are being fed, Bryden’s report said.

“It is ultimately al Shabaab’s twisted ideology, repressive methods, and indifference to the suffering of its own people that lies behind this catastrophe,” Bryden wrote.

“The time has come for either the International Criminal Court to become engaged in Somalia, or for a special international tribunal to be established, in order to dismantle Somalia’s deadly culture of impunity.

“It may seem unrealistic today that leaders of al-Shabaab would ever face trial, but the same could also once have been said about the leaders of the Khmer Rouge or the Bosnian Serbs.”


Bryden was also highly critical of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which controls most of Mogadishu, for looting aid intended for hungry Somalis.

“Those who have undermined and brought shame upon the TFG and its affiliates by commodifying their own people, using them as lures for personal profit, are no less guilty and more readily accessible to the reach of international justice,” added Bryden, a former analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank.

He said the TFG had squandered hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign assistance since 2004 and corrupt government officials had made off with as much loot as they could.

“The scale of the TFG’s financial hemorrhaging is so immense that the term ‘corruption’ seems barely adequate,” he added.

Source: AlertNet

By: Katy Migiro

October 04, 2011