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Human Rights in Somalia


University students join a demonstration condemning the gunmen attack at the Garissa University campus, in the Kenyan coastal port city of Mombasa, April 8, 2015.

In its recently-released report on human rights practices, the U.S. Department of State found that serious human rights abuses continued in Somalia during 2015.

In its recently-released report on human rights practices, the U.S. Department of State found that serious human rights abuses continued in Somalia during 2015.

Major human rights abuses included killings of civilians by the al-Shabaab terrorist group, Somali security forces, and unknown assailants.

Violence and discrimination against women and girls, including rape and female genital mutilation were widespread. Civilians did not have the ability to change their government through voting in free and fair elections.

Other major human rights abuses included disappearance; torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary and politically motivated arrest and detention; denial of fair public trial; use of excessive force and other abuses in internal conflict; restrictions on freedoms of speech and press, assembly and association, religion; and forced eviction and relocation of internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Clan militias and al-Shabaab continued to commit grave abuses throughout the country, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, cruel and unusual punishment, rape, restrictions on civil liberties and freedom of movement, restrictions on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian assistance, and conscription and use of child soldiers.

Al-Shabaab recruited child soldiers. According to UN assessments, trends reflected in a 2012 Human Rights Watch report continued. These included children in al-Shabaab training camps subjected to grueling physical training, inadequate diet, weapons training, physical punishment, and religious training. The training also included forcing children to punish and execute other children. Al-Shabaab used children in combat, including placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields and suicide bombers. In addition, al-Shabaab used children in support roles, such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards.

AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia] troops killed civilians and committed sexual abuse and exploitation, including rape of women and girls.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the annual human rights report renews the U.S. commitment “to promoting and protecting universal human rights, to supporting and defending civil society in its peaceful efforts to hold governments accountable, and to working with our partners to advance peace, development, human rights, and democracy.”

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