[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday accused [press release] all parties to Somalia’s ongoing armed conflict of engaging in rights violations and urged the parties to immediately end abuses against citizens. In a report entitled “You Don’t Know Who To Blame: War Crimes in Somalia” [text, PDF], HRW describes abuses carried out by numerous parties to the conflict, including Islamic terrorism organization al-Shabaab, the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) [CFR backgrounders], the African Union peacekeeping forces (AMISOM), and Somali militias supported by Kenya and Ethiopia. The fighting, which began to increase in late 2010, has resulted in over 4,000 civilian casualties and 1,000 deaths and has displaced thousands of Somalians. HRW Africa Director David Bekele called on the parties to end the abuses:
Abuses by al-Shabaab and pro-government forces have vastly multiplied the suffering from Somalia’s famine. All sides need to take urgent steps to stop these unlawful attacks, let in aid, and end this humanitarian nightmare. There is no quick fix to Somalia’s tragedy, but it’s clear that impunity for serious abuses perpetuates insecurity. International pressure to bring an end to abuses by all sides is more crucial than ever—a more secure and rights respecting Somalia would be less prone to violence and famine.
The report also urged Kenya to protect Somalian refugees from public beheadings and floggings, inhumane social regulations and forced participation in combat enforced by Al-Shabaab, as well as police harassment, arbitrary arrest and deportation.
Somalia has come under fire for its poor human rights record. In July, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that Somali children continue to be victims of war crimes [press release; JURIST report]. The 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials], released in April by the US Department of State [official website], outlined rights setbacks [JURIST report] under the TFG in Mogadishu, but noted progress in Somalia [materials], particularly in the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] said that human rights violations committed during recent Somalian conflicts, including recruitment of child soldiers, may amount to war crimes [JURIST report]. HRW reported [JURIST report] in 2008 that war crimes and other human rights violations are being committed in the ongoing Somali conflict [BBC backgrounder]. Somalia has endured a lengthy civil war and several rounds of failed peace talks [BBC timeline] since the collapse of its last civil government in 1991. In January 2007, the transitional government began imposing martial law [JURIST report] over areas under the government’s control. In August 2007, HRW reported that war crimes were rampant [JURIST report] in Somalia.