International Criminology World

World : Africa : Somalia

Early history traces the development of the Somali people to an Arab sultanate, which was founded in the seventh century A.D. by Koreishite immigrants from Yemen. During the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese traders landed in present Somali territory and ruled several coastal towns. The sultan of Oman and Zanzibar subsequently took control of these towns and their surrounding territory.

Somalia's modern history began in the late l9th century, when various European powers began to trade and establish themselves in the area. The British East India Company's desire for unrestricted harbor facilities led to the conclusion of treaties with the sultan of Tajura as early as 1840. It was not until 1886, however, that the British gained control over northern Somalia through treaties with various Somali chiefs who were guaranteed British protection. British objectives centered on safeguarding trade links to the east and securing local sources of food and provisions for its coaling station in Aden. The boundary between Ethiopia and British Somaliland was established in 1897 through treaty negotiations between British negotiators and King Menelik.

During the first two decades of this century, British rule was challenged through persistent attacks led by Mohamed Abdullah. A long series of intermittent engagements and truces ended in 1920 when British warplanes bombed Abdullah's stronghold at Taleex. Although Abdullah was defeated as much by rival Somali factions as by British forces, he was lauded as a popular hero and stands as a major figure of national identity to some Somalis.

In 1885, Italy obtained commercial advantages in the area from the sultan of Zanzibar and in 1889 concluded agreements with the sultans of Obbia and Aluula, who placed their territories under Italy's protection. Between 1897 and 1908, Italy made agreements with the Ethiopians and the British that marked out the boundaries of Italian Somaliland. The Italian Government assumed direct administration, giving the territory colonial status.

Italian occupation gradually extended inland. In 1924, the Jubaland Province of Kenya, including the town and port of Kismayo, was ceded to Italy by the United Kingdom. The subjugation and occupation of the independent sultanates of Obbia and Mijertein, begun in 1925, were completed in 1927. In the late 1920s, Italian and Somali influence expanded into the Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia. Continuing incursions climaxed in 1935 when Italian forces launched an offensive that led to the capture of Addis Ababa and the Italian annexation of Ethiopia in 1936.

Following Italy's declaration of war on the United Kingdom in June 1940, Italian troops overran British Somaliland and drove out the British garrison. In 1941, British forces began operations against the Italian East African Empire and quickly brought the greater part of Italian Somaliland under British control. From 1941 to 1950, while Somalia was under British military administration, transition toward self-government was begun through the establishment of local courts, planning committees, and the Protectorate Advisory Council. In 1948 Britain turned the Ogaden and neighboring Somali territories over to Ethiopia.

In Article 23 of the 1947 peace treaty, Italy renounced all rights and titles to Italian Somaliland. In accordance with treaty stipulations, on September 15, 1948, the Four Powers referred the question of disposal of former Italian colonies to the UN General Assembly. On November 21, 1949, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that Italian Somaliland be placed under an international trusteeship system for 10 years, with Italy as the administering authority, followed by independence for Italian Somaliland. In 1959, at the request of the Somali Government, the UN General Assembly advanced the date of independence from December 2 to July 1, 1960.

Meanwhile, rapid progress toward self-government was being made in British Somaliland. Elections for the Legislative Assembly were held in February 1960, and one of the first acts of the new legislature was to request that the United Kingdom grant the area independence so that it could be united with Italian Somaliland when the latter became independent. The protectorate became independent on June 26, 1960; five days later, on July 1, it joined Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic.

In June 1961, Somalia adopted its first national constitution in a countrywide referendum, which provided for a democratic state with a parliamentary form of government based on European models. During the early post-independence period, political parties reflected clan loyalties, which contributed to a basic split between the regional interests of the former British-controlled north and the Italian-controlled south. There also was substantial conflict between pro-Arab, pan-Somali militants intent on national unification with the Somali-inhabited territories in Ethiopia and Kenya and the "modernists," who wished to give priority to economic and social development and improving relations with other African countries. Gradually, the Somali Youth League, formed under British auspices in 1943, assumed a dominant position and succeeded in cutting across regional and clan loyalties. Under the leadership of Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, prime minister from 1967 to 1969, Somalia greatly improved its relations with Kenya and Ethiopia. The process of party-based constitutional democracy came to an abrupt end, however, on October 21, 1969, when the army and police, led by Maj. Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre, seized power in a bloodless coup.

Following the coup, executive and legislative power was vested in the 20-member Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC), headed by Maj. Gen. Siad Barre as president. The SRC pursued a course of "scientific socialism" that reflected both ideological and economic dependence on the Soviet Union. The government instituted a national security service, centralized control over information, and initiated a number of grassroots development projects. Perhaps the most impressive success was a crash program that introduced an orthography for the Somali language and brought literacy to a substantial percentage of the population.

The SRC became increasingly radical in foreign affairs, and in 1974, Somalia and the Soviet Union concluded a treaty of friendship and cooperation. As early as 1972, tensions began increasing along the Somali-Ethiopian border; these tensions heightened after the accession to power in Ethiopia in 1973 of the Mengistu Hailemariam regime, which turned increasingly toward the Soviet Union. In the mid-1970s, the Western Somali Liberation Front (WSLF) began guerrilla operations in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Fighting increased, and in July 1977, the Somali National Army (SNA) crossed into the Ogaden to support the insurgents. The SNA moved quickly toward Harer, Jijiga, and Dire Dawa, the principal cities of the region. Subsequently, the Soviet Union, Somalia's most important source of arms, embargoed weapons shipments to Somalia. The Soviets switched their full support to Ethiopia, with massive infusions of Soviet arms and 10,000-15,000 Cuban troops. In November 1977, President Siad Barre expelled all Soviet advisers and abrogated the friendship agreement with the U.S.S.R. In March 1978, Somali forces retreated into Somalia; however, the WSLF continues to carry out sporadic but greatly reduced guerrilla activity in the Ogaden. Such activities also were subsequently undertaken by another dissident group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Following the 1977 Ogaden war, President Barre looked to the West for international support, military equipment, and economic aid. The United States and other Western countries traditionally were reluctant to provide arms because of the Somali Government's support for insurgency in Ethiopia. In 1978, the United States reopened the U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Somalia. Two years later, an agreement was concluded that gave U.S. forces access to military facilities in Somalia. In the summer of 1982, Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia along the central border, and the United States provided two emergency airlifts to help Somalia defend its territorial integrity.

From 1982 to 1990 the United States viewed Somalia as a partner in defense. Somali officers of the National Armed Forces were trained in U.S. military schools in civilian as well as military subjects. Within Somalia, Siad Barre's regime confronted insurgencies in the northeast and northwest, whose aim was to overthrow his government. By 1988, Siad Barre was openly at war with sectors of his nation. At the President's order, aircraft from the Somali National Air Force bombed the cities in the northwest province, attacking civilian as well as insurgent targets. The warfare in the northwest sped up the decay already evident elsewhere in the republic. Economic crisis, brought on by the cost of anti-insurgency activities, caused further hardship as Siad Barre and his cronies looted the national treasury.

By 1990, the insurgency in the northwest was largely successful. The army dissolved into competing armed groups loyal to former commanders or to clan-tribal leaders. The economy was in shambles, and hundreds of thousands of Somalis fled their homes. In 1991, Siad Barre and forces loyal to him fled the capital; he later died in exile in Nigeria. In the same year, Somaliland declared itself independent of the rest of Somalia, with its capital in Hargeisa. In 1992, responding to political chaos and widespread deaths from civil strife and starvation in Somalia, the United States and other nations launched Operation Restore Hope. Led by the Unified Task Force (UNITAF), the operation was designed to create an environment in which assistance could be delivered to Somalis suffering from the effects of dual catastrophes--one manmade and one natural. UNITAF was followed by the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). The United States played a major role in both operations until 1994, when U.S. forces withdrew.

The prevailing chaos in much of Somalia after 1991 contributed to growing influence by various Islamic groups, including al-Tabliq, al-Islah (supported by Saudi Arabia), and Al-Ittihad Al-Islami (Islamic Unity). These groups, which are among the main non-clan-based forces in Somalia, share the goal of establishing an Islamic state. They differ in their approach; in particular, Al-Ittihad supports the use of violence to achieve that goal and has claimed responsibility for terrorist acts. In the mid-1990s, Al-Ittihad came to dominate territory in Puntland as well as central Somalia near Gedo. It was forcibly expelled from these localities by Puntland forces as well as Ethiopian attacks in the Gedo region. Since that time, Al-Ittihad has adopted a longer term strategy based on integration into local communities and establishment of Islamic schools, courts, and relief centers.

After the attack on the United States of September 11, 2001, Somalia gained greater international attention as a possible base for terrorism--a concern that became the primary element in U.S. policy toward Somalia. The United States and other members of the anti-terrorism coalition examined a variety of short- and long-term measures designed to cope with the threat of terrorism in and emanating from Somalia. Economic sanctions were applied to Al-Ittihad and to the Al-Barakaat group of companies, based in Dubai, which conducted currency exchanges and remittances transfers in Somalia. The United Nations also took an increased interest in Somalia, including proposals for an increased UN presence and for strengthening a 1992 arms embargo.

Somalia1 has been without a central government since its last president, dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, fled the country in 1991. Subsequent fighting among rival faction leaders resulted in the killing, displacement, and starvation of thousands of persons and led the U.N. to intervene militarily in 1992. Following the U.N. intervention, periodic attempts at national reconciliation were made, but they did not succeed. In September 1999, during a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh announced an initiative to facilitate reconciliation under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). In March 2000, formal reconciliation efforts began with a series of small focus group meetings of various elements of Somali society in Djibouti. In May 2000, in Arta, Djibouti, delegates representing all clans and a wide spectrum of Somali society were selected to participate in a "Conference for National Peace and Reconciliation in Somalia." More than 900 delegates, including representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), attended the Conference. The Conference adopted a charter for a 3-year Transitional National Government (TNG) and selected a 245-member Transitional National Assembly (TNA), which included 24 members of Somali minority groups and 25 women. In August 2000, the Assembly elected Abdiqassim Salad Hassan as Transitional President. Ali Khalif Gallayr was named Prime Minister in October 2000, and he appointed the 25-member Cabinet. Administrations in the northwest (Somaliland) and northeast ("Puntland") areas of the country do not recognize the results of the Djibouti Conference, nor do several Mogadishu-based factional leaders. In October the TNA passed a vote of no confidence in the TNG, and Gallayr was dismissed as Prime Minister. In November Abdiqassim appointed Hassan Abshir Farah as the new Prime Minister. Serious interclan fighting continued to occur in parts of the country, notably in the central regions of Hiran and Middle Shabelle, the southern regions of Gedo and Lower Shabelle, and in the Middle Juba and Lower Juba regions. No group controls more than a fraction of the country's territory. There is no national judicial system.

Leaders in the northeast proclaimed the formation of the Puntland state in 1998. Puntland's leader, Abdullahi Yusuf, publicly announced that he did not plan to break away from the remainder of the country, but the Puntland Administration did not participate in the Djibouti Conference or recognize the TNG that emerged from it. In July Yusuf announced his refusal to abide by the Constitution and step down. This led to a confrontation with Chief Justice Yusuf Haji Nur, who claimed interim presidential powers pending elections. In November traditional elders elected Jama Ali Jama as the new Puntland President. Yusuf refused to accept the elders' decision, and in December he seized by force the town of Garowe, reportedly with Ethiopian support. Jama fled to Bosasso. Both Yusuf and Jama continued to claim the presidency, and there were continued efforts to resolve the conflict at year's end 2001. A ban on political parties in Puntland remained in place.

In the northwest, the "Republic of Somaliland" continued to proclaim its independence within the borders of former British Somaliland. Somaliland has sought international recognition since 1991 without success. Somaliland's government includes a parliament, a functioning civil court system, executive departments organized as ministries, six regional governors, and municipal authorities in major towns. During the year 2001, 97 percent of voters in a referendum voted for independence for Somaliland and for a political party system. Presidential and parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held in February 2002; however, President Egal requested and Parliament granted a 1-year extension for the next elections.



Somalia has a long history of internal instability; in some instances, clan feuds have lasted more than a century. Most of this turmoil has been associated with disagreements and factionalism between and among the major branches of the Somali lineage system, which includes pastoral nomads such as the Dir, Daarood, Isaaq, and Hawiye, and agriculturalists such as the Digil and Rahanwayn. In more recent times, these historical animosities have expressed themselves through the emergence of clan-based dissident and insurgent movements. Most of these groups grew to oppose Siad Barre's regime because the president refused to make political reforms, unleashed a reign of terror against the country's citizenry, and concentrated power in the hands of his Mareehaan subclan (the Mareehaan belonged to the Daarood clan). After Siad Barre fled Mogadishu in January 1991, the Somali nation state collapsed, largely along warring clan lines.

In the aftermath of the 1969 coup, the central government acquired control of all legislative, administrative, and judicial functions. The only legally permitted party was the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP). In April 1970, Siad Barre authorized the creation of National Security Courts (NSCs), which shortly thereafter tried approximately sixty people: leaders of the previous government, businessmen, lawyers, and senior military personnel who had failed to support the coup. In September 1970, the Supreme Revolutionary Council (SRC) proclaimed that any person who harmed the nation's unity, peace, or sovereignty could be sentenced to death. The government also promised to punish anyone who spread false propaganda against Siad Barre's regime.

Until the early 1980s, the Siad Barre regime generally shunned capital punishment in favor of imprisonment and reeducation of actual, suspected, or potential opponents. The earlier parliamentary government had been able to hold people without trial up to ninety days during a state of emergency, but the military government removed most legal restrictions on preventive detention. After the coup, a local revolutionary council or the National Security Service (NSS) could detain individuals regarded as dangerous to peace, order, good government, or the aims and spirit of the revolution. Additionally, regional governors could order the search and arrest of persons suspected of a crime or of activities considered threatening to public order and security, and could requisition property or services without compensation. In 1974 the government began to require all civil servants to sign statements of intent to abide by security regulations. Furthermore, any contact between foreigners and Somali citizens had to be reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. By the late 1970s, most Somalis were ignoring this latter regulation.

The Somali government became more repressive after an unsuccessful 1971 coup. Officials maintained that the coup attempt by some SRC members had sought to protect the interests of the trading bourgeoisie and the tribal structure. Many expected that the conspirators would receive clemency. Instead, the government executed them. Many Somalis found this act inconsistent with Islamic principles and as a consequence turned against Siad Barre's regime.

During its first years in power, the SRC sought to bolster nationalism by undermining traditional Somali allegiance to Islamic religious leaders and clan groups. Although it tried to avoid entirely alienating religious leaders, the government restricted their involvement in politics. During the early 1970s, some Islamic leaders affirmed that Islam could never coexist with scientific socialism; however, Siad Barre claimed that the two concepts were compatible because Islam propagated a classless society based on egalitarianism.

In the mid-1970s, the government tried to eliminate a rallying point for opposition by substituting allegiance to the nation for traditional allegiance to family and clan. Toward this end, the authorities stressed individual responsibility for all offenses, thereby undermining the concept of collective responsibility that existed in traditional society and served as the basis of diya-paying groups. The government also abolished traditional clan leadership responsibilities and titles such as sultan and shaykh.

By the late 1980s, it was evident that Siad Barre had failed to create a sense of Somali nationalism. Moreover, he had been unable to destroy the family and clan loyalties that continued to govern the lives of most Somalis. As antigovernment activities escalated, Siad Barre increasingly used force and terror against his opponents. This cycle of violence further isolated his regime, caused dissent within the SNA, and eventually precipitated the collapse of his government.

From 1969 until the mid-1970s, Siad Barre's authoritarian regime enjoyed a degree of popular support, largely because it acted with a decisiveness not displayed by the civilian governments of the 1960s. Even the 1971 coup attempt failed to affect the stability of the government. However, Somalia's defeat in the Ogaden War signaled the beginning of a decline in Siad Barre's popularity that culminated in his January 1991 fall from power.

Before the war, many Somalis had criticized Siad Barre for not trying to reincorporate the Ogaden into Somalia immediately after Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie's death in 1975. The government was unable to stifle this criticism largely because the Somali claim to the Ogaden had overwhelming national support. The regime's commitment of regular troops to the Ogaden proved highly popular, as did Siad Barre's expulsion of the Soviet advisers, who had been resented by most Somalis. However, Somalia's defeat in the Ogaden War refocused criticism on Siad Barre.

After the spring 1978 retreat toward Hargeysa, Siad Barre met with his generals to discuss the battlefield situation, and ordered the execution of six of them for activities against the state. This action failed to quell SNA discontent over Siad Barre's handling of the war with Ethiopia. On April 9, 1978, a group of military officers (mostly Majeerteen) attempted a coup d'état. Government security forces crushed the plot within hours and subsequently arrested seventy-four suspected conspirators. After a month-long series of trials, the authorities imprisoned thirty-six people associated with the coup and executed another seventeen.

After the war, it was evident that the ruling alliance among the Mareehaan, Ogaden, and Dulbahante clans had been broken. The Ogaden--the clan of Siad Barre's mother, which had the most direct stake in the war--broke with the regime over the president's wartime leadership. To prevent further challenges to his rule, Siad Barre placed members of his own clan in important positions in the government, the armed forces, the security services, and other state agencies.

Throughout the late 1970s, growing discontent with the regime's policies and personalities prompted the defection of numerous government officials and the establishment of several insurgent movements. Because unauthorized political activity was prohibited, these organizations were based abroad. The best known was the Somali Salvation Front (SSF), which operated from Ethiopia. The SSF had absorbed its predecessor, the Somali Democratic Action Front (SODAF), which had been formed in Rome in 1976. Former minister of justice Usmaan Nur Ali led the Majeerteen-based SODAF. Lieutenant Colonel Abdillaahi Yuusuf Ahmad, a survivor of the 1978 coup attempt, commanded the SSF. Other prominent SSF personalities included former minister of education Hasan Ali Mirreh and former ambassador Muse Islan Faarah. The SSF, which received assistance from Ethiopia and Libya, claimed to command a guerrilla force numbering in the thousands. Ethiopia placed a radio transmitter at the SSF's disposal from which Radio Kulmis (unity) beamed anti-Siad Barre invective to listeners in Somalia. Although it launched a low- intensity sabotage campaign in 1981, the SSF lacked the capabilities to sustain effective guerrilla operations against the SNA.

The SSF's weakness derived from its limited potential as a rallying point for opposition to the government. Although the SSF embraced no ideology or political philosophy other than hostility to Siad Barre, its nationalist appeal was undermined by its reliance on Ethiopian support. The SSF claimed to encompass a range of opposition forces, but its leading figures belonged with few exceptions to the Majeerteen clan.

In October 1981, the SSF merged with the radical-left Somali Workers Party (SWP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Somalia (DFLS) to form the Somali Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF). The SWP and DFLS, both based in Aden (then the capital of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen--South Yemen), had included some former SRSP Central Committee members who faulted Siad Barre for compromising Somalia's revolutionary goals. An eleven-man committee led the SSDF. Yuusuf Ahmad, a former SNA officer and head of the SDF acted as chairman; former SWP leader Idris Jaama Husseen served as vice chairman; Abdirahman Aidid Ahmad, former chairman of the SRSP Ideology Bureau and founding father of the DFLS, was secretary for information. The SSDF promised to intensify the military and political struggles against the Siad Barre regime, which was said to have destroyed Somali unity and surrendered to United States imperialism. Like the SSF, the SSDF suffered from weak organization, a close identification with its Ethiopian and Libyan benefactors, and its reputation as a Majeerteen party.

Despite its shortcomings, the SSDF played a key role in fighting between Somalia and Ethiopia in the summer of 1982. After a SNA force infiltrated the Ogaden, joined with the WSLF and attacked an Ethiopian army unit outside Shilabo, about 150 kilometers northwest of Beledweyne, Ethiopia retaliated by launching an operation against Somalia. On June 30, 1982, Ethiopian army units, together with SSDF guerrillas, struck at several points along Ethiopia's southern border with Somalia. They crushed the SNA unit in Balumbale and then occupied that village. In August 1982, the Ethiopian/SSDF force took the village of Goldogob, about 50 kiloeters northwest of Galcaio. After the United States provided emergency military assistance to Somalia, the Ethiopian attacks ceased. However, the Ethiopian/SSDF units remained in Balumbale and Goldogob, which Addis Ababa maintained were part of Ethiopia that had been liberated by the Ethiopian army. The SSDF disputed the Ethiopian claim, causing a power struggle that eventually resulted in the destruction of the SSDF's leadership.

On October 12, 1985, Ethiopian authorities arrested Ahmad and six of his lieutenants after they repeatedly indicated that Balumbale and Goldogob were part of Somalia. The Ethiopian government justified the arrests by saying that Ahmad had refused to comply with a SSDF Central Committee decision relieving him as chairman. Mahammad Abshir, a party bureaucrat, then assumed command of the SSDF. Under his leadership, the SSDF became militarily moribund, primarily because of poor relations with Addis Ababa. In August 1986, the Ethiopian army attacked SSDF units, then launched a war against the movement, and finally jailed its remaining leaders. For the next several years, the SSDF existed more in name than in fact. In late 1990, however, after Ethiopia released former SSDF leader Ahmad, the movement reemerged as a fighting force in Somalia, albeit to a far lesser degree than in the early 1980s.

In April 1981, a group of Isaaq emigrés living in London formed the Somali National Movement (SNM), which subsequently became the strongest of Somalia's various insurgent movements. According to its spokesmen, the rebels wanted to overthrow Siad Barre's dictatorship. Additionally, the SNM advocated a mixed economy and a neutral foreign policy, rejecting alignment with the Soviet Union or the United States and calling for the dismantling of all foreign military bases in the region. In the late 1980s, the SNM adopted a pro-Western foreign policy and favored United States involvement in a post-Siad Barre Somalia. Other SNM objectives included establishment of a representative democracy that would guarantee human rights and freedom of speech. Eventually, the SNM moved its headquarters from London to Addis Ababa to obtain Ethiopian military assistance, which initially was limited to old Soviet small arms.

In October 1981, the SNM rebels elected Ahmad Mahammad Culaid and Ahmad Ismaaiil Abdi as chairman and secretary general, respectively, of the movement. Culaid had participated in northern Somali politics until 1975, when he went into exile in Djibouti and then in Saudi Arabia. Abdi had been politically active in the city of Burao in the 1950s, and, from 1965 to 1967, had served as the Somali government's minister of planning. After the authorities jailed him in 1971 for antigovernment activities, Abdi left Somalia and lived in East Africa and Saudi Arabia. The rebels also elected an eight-man executive committee to oversee the SNM's military and political activities.

On January 2, 1982, the SNM launched its first military operation against the Somali government. Operating from Ethiopian bases, commando units attacked Mandera Prison near Berbera and freed a group of northern dissidents. According to the SNM, the assault liberated more than 700 political prisoners; subsequent independent estimates indicated that only about a dozen government opponents escaped. At the same time, other commando units raided the Cadaadle armory near Berbera and escaped with an undetermined amount of arms and ammunition.

Mogadishu responded to the SNM attacks by declaring a state of emergency, imposing a curfew, closing gasoline stations to civilian vehicles, banning movement in or out of northern Somalia, and launching a search for the Mandera prisoners (most of whom were never found). On January 8, 1982, the Somali government also closed its border with Djibouti to prevent the rebels from fleeing Somalia. These actions failed to stop SNM military activities.

In October 1982, the SNM tried to increase pressure against the Siad Barre regime by forming a joint military committee with the SSDF. Apart from issuing antigovernment statements, the two insurgent groups started broadcasting from the former Radio Kulmis station, now known as Radio Halgan (struggle). Despite this political cooperation, the SNM and SSDF failed to agree on a common strategy against Mogadishu. As a result, the alliance languished.

In February 1983, Siad Barre visited northern Somalia in a campaign to discredit the SNM. Among other things, he ordered the release of numerous civil servants and businessmen who had been arrested for antigovernment activities, lifted the state of emergency, and announced an amnesty for Somali exiles who wanted to return home. These tactics put the rebels on the political defensive for several months. In November 1983, the SNM Central Committee sought to regain the initiative by holding an emergency meeting to formulate a more aggressive strategy. One outcome was that the military wing--headed by Abdulqaadir Kosar Abdi, formerly of the SNA--assumed control of the Central Committee by ousting the civilian membership from all positions of power. However, in July 1984, at the Fourth SNM Congress, held in Ethiopia, the civilians regained control of the leadership. The delegates also elected Ahmad Mahammad Mahamuud "Silanyo" SNM chairman and reasserted their intention to revive the alliance with the SSDF.

After the Fourth SNM Congress adjourned, military activity in northern Somalia increased. SNM commandos attacked about a dozen government military posts in the vicinity of Hargeysa, Burao, and Berbera. According to the SNM, the SNA responded by shooting 300 people at a demonstration in Burao, sentencing seven youths to death for sedition, and arresting an unknown number of rebel sympathizers. In January 1985, the government executed twenty- eight people in retaliation for antigovernment activity.

Between June 1985 and February 1986, the SNM claimed to have carried out thirty operations against government forces in northern Somalia. In addition, the SNM reported that it had killed 476 government soldiers and wounded 263, and had captured eleven vehicles and had destroyed another twenty-two, while losing only 38 men and two vehicles. Although many independent observers said these figures were exaggerated, SNM operations during the 1985-86 campaign forced Siad Barre to mount an international effort to cut off foreign aid to the rebels. This initiative included reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Libya in exchange for Tripoli's promise to stop supporting the SNM.

Despite efforts to isolate the rebels, the SNM continued military operations in northern Somalia. Between July and September 1987, the SNM initiated approximately thirty attacks, including one on the northern capital, Hargeysa; none of these, however, weakened the government's control of northern Somalia. A more dramatic event occurred when a SNM unit kidnapped a Médecins Sans Frontières medical aid team of ten Frenchmen and one Djiboutian to draw the world's attention to Mogadishu's policy of impressing men from refugee camps into the SNA. After ten days, the SNM released the hostages unconditionally.

Siad Barre responded to these activities by instituting harsh security measures throughout northern Somalia. The government also evicted suspected pro-SNM nomad communities from the Somali- Ethiopian border region. These measures failed to contain the SNM. By February 1988, the rebels had captured three villages around Togochale, a refugee camp near the northwestern Somali- Ethiopian border.

Following the rebel successes of 1987-88, Somali-Ethiopian relations began to improve. On March 19, 1988, Siad Barre and Ethiopian president Mengistu Haile Mariam met in Djibouti to discuss ways of reducing tension between the two countries. Although little was accomplished, the two agreed to hold further talks. At the end of March 1988, the Ethiopian minister of foreign affairs, Berhanu Bayih, arrived in Mogadishu for discussions with a group of Somali officials, headed by General Ahmad Mahamuud Faarah. On April 4, 1988, the two presidents signed a joint communiqué in which they agreed to restore diplomatic relations, exchange prisoners of war, start a mutual withdrawal of troops from the border area, and end subversive activities and hostile propaganda against each other.

Faced with a cutoff of Ethiopian military assistance, the SNM had to prove its ability to operate as an independent organization. Therefore, in late May 1988 SNM units moved out of their Ethiopian base camps and launched a major offensive in northern Somalia. The rebels temporarily occupied the provincial capitals of Burao and Hargeysa. These early successes bolstered the SNM's popular support, as thousands of disaffected Isaaq clan members and SNA deserters joined the rebel ranks.

Over the next few years, the SNM took control of almost all of northwestern Somalia and extended its area of operations about fifty kilometers east of Erigavo. However, the SNM did not gain control of the region's major cities (i.e., Berbera, Hargeysa, Burao, and Boorama), but succeeded only in laying siege to them.

With Ethiopian military assistance no longer a factor, the SNM's success depended on its ability to capture weapons from the SNA. The rebels seized numerous vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers from government forces and subsequently equipped them with light and medium weapons such as 12.7mm and 14.5mm machine guns, 106mm recoilless rifles, and BM-21 rocket launchers. The SNM possessed antitank weapons such as Soviet B-10 tubes and RPG- 7s. For air defense the rebels operated Soviet 30mm and 23mm guns, several dozen Soviet ZU23 2s, and Czech-made twin-mounted 30mm ZU30 2s. The SNM also maintained a small fleet of armed speed boats that operated from Maydh, fifty kilometers northwest of Erigavo, and Xiis, a little west of Maydh. Small arms included 120mm mortars and various assault rifles, such as AK-47s, M-16s, and G-3s. Despite these armaments, rebel operations, especially against the region's major cities, suffered because of an inadequate logistics system and a lack of artillery, mine- clearing equipment, ammunition, and communications gear.

To weaken Siad Barre's regime further, the SNM encouraged the formation of other clan-based insurgent movements and provided them with political and military support. In particular, the SNM maintained close relations with the United Somali Congress (USC), which was active in central Somalia, and the Somali Patriotic Movement (SPM), which operated in southern Somalia. Both these groups sought to overthrow Siad Barre's regime and establish a democratic form of government.

The USC, a Hawiye organization founded in 1989, had suffered from factionalism based on subclan rivalries since its creation. General Mahammad Faarah Aidid commanded the Habar Gidir clan, and Ali Mahdi Mahammad headed the Abgaal clan. The SPM emerged in March 1989, after a group of Ogaden officers, led by Umar Jess, deserted the SNA and took up arms against Siad Barre. Like the USC, the SPM experienced a division among its ranks. The moderates, under Jess, favored an alliance with the SNM and USC and believed that Somalia should abandon its claims to the Ogaden. SPM hardliners wanted to recapture the Ogaden and favored a stronger military presence along the Somali-Ethiopian border.

On November 19, 1989, the SNM and SPM issued a joint communiqué announcing the adoption of a "unified stance on internal and external political policy." On September 12, 1990, the SNM concluded a similar agreement with the USC. Then, on November 24, 1990, the SNM announced that it had united with the SPM and the USC to pursue a common military strategy against the SNA. Actually, the SNM had concluded the unification agreement with Aidid, which widened the rift between the two USC factions.

By the beginning of 1991, all three of the major rebel organizations had made significant military progress. The SNM had all but taken control of northern Somalia by capturing the towns of Hargeysa, Berbera, Burao, and Erigavo. On January 26, 1991, the USC stormed the presidential palace in Mogadishu, thereby establishing its control over the capital. The SPM succeeded in overrunning several government outposts in southern Somalia.

The SNM-USC-SPM unification agreement failed to last after Siad Barre fled Mogadishu. On January 26, 1991, the USC formed an interim government, which the SNM refused to recognize. On May 18, 1991, the SNM declared the independence of the Republic of Somaliland. The USC interim government opposed this declaration, arguing instead for a unified Somalia. Apart from these political disagreements, fighting broke out between and within the USC and SPM. The SNM also sought to establish its control over northern Somalia by pacifying clans such as the Gadabursi and the Dulbahante. To make matters worse, guerrilla groups proliferated; by late 1991, numerous movements vied for political power, including the United Somali Front (Iise), Somali Democratic Alliance (Gadabursi), United Somali Party (Dulbahante), Somali Democratic Movement (Rahanwayn), and Somali National Front (Mareehaan). The collapse of the nation state system and the emergence of clan-based guerrilla movements and militias that became governing authorities persuaded most Western observers that national reconciliation would be a long and difficult process.



The country's population is estimated to be between 7 and 8 million. The country is very poor with a market-based economy in which most of the work force is employed as subsistence farmers, agro-pastoralists, or pastoralists. The principal exports are livestock and charcoal; there is very little industry. Insecurity and bad weather continued to affect the country's already extremely poor economic situation. A livestock ban, lifted in 2000, was reinstituted by Saudi Arabia because of fears of Rift Valley fever and reportedly because of Saudi political considerations. Livestock is the most important component of the Somali economy, and the ban has harmed further an already devastated economy. The country's economic problems continued to cause serious unemployment and led to pockets of malnutrition in southern areas of the country.



Most Somalis are Sunni Muslims. (Less than 1 percent of ethnic Somalis are Christians.) Loyalty to Islam reinforces distinctions that set Somalis apart from their immediate African neighbors, most of whom are either Christians (particularly the Amhara and others of Ethiopia) or adherents of indigenous African faiths.

The Islamic ideal is a society organized to implement Muslim precepts in which no distinction exists between the secular and the religious spheres. Among Somalis this ideal had been approximated less fully in the north than among some groups in the settled regions of the south where religious leaders were at one time an integral part of the social and political structure. Among nomads, the exigencies of pastoral life gave greater weight to the warrior's role, and religious leaders were expected to remain aloof from political matters.

The role of religious functionaries began to shrink in the 1950s and 1960s as some of their legal and educational powers and responsibilities were transferred to secular authorities. The position of religious leaders changed substantially after the 1969 revolution and the introduction of scientific socialism. Siad Barre insisted that his version of socialism was compatible with Quranic principles, and he condemned atheism. Religious leaders, however, were warned not to meddle in politics.

The new government instituted legal changes that some religious figures saw as contrary to Islamic precepts. The regime reacted sharply to criticism, executing some of the protesters. Subsequently, religious leaders seemed to accommodate themselves to the government.

Somali Islam rendered the world intelligible to Somalis and made their lives more bearable in a harsh land. Amidst the interclan violence that characterized life in the early 1990s, Somalis naturally sought comfort in their faith to make sense of their national disaster. The traditional response of practicing Muslims to social trauma is to explain it in terms of a perceived sin that has caused society to stray from the "straight path of truth" and consequently to receive God's punishment. The way to regain God's favor is to repent collectively and rededicate society in accordance with Allah's divine precepts.

On the basis of these beliefs, a Somali brand of messianic Islamism (sometimes seen as fundamentalism) sprang up to fill the vacuum created by the collapse of the state. In the disintegrated Somali world of early 1992, Islamism appeared to be largely confined to Bender Cassim, a coastal town in Majeerteen country. For instance, a Yugoslav doctor who was a member of a United Nations team sent to aid the wounded was gunned down by masked assailants there in November 1991. Reportedly, the assassins belonged to an underground Islamist movement whose adherents wished to purify the country of "infidel" influence.






The Somali Penal Code, promulgated in early 1962, became effective on April 3, 1964. It was Somalia's first codification of laws designed to protect the individual and to ensure the equitable administration of justice. The basis of the code was the constitutional premise that the law has supremacy over the state and its citizens. The code placed responsibility for determining offenses and punishments on the written law and the judicial system and excluded many penal sanctions formerly observed in unwritten customary law. The authorities who drafted the code, however, did not disregard the people's past reliance on traditional rules and sanctions. The code contained some of the authority expressed by customary law and by Islamic, sharia, or religious law.

The penal laws applied to all nationals, foreigners, and stateless persons living in Somalia. Courts ruled out ignorance of the law as a justification for breaking the law or an excuse for committing an offense, but considered extenuations and mitigating factors in individual cases. The penal laws prohibited collective punishment, which was contrary to the traditional sanctions of diya-paying groups. The penal laws stipulated that if the offense constituted a violation of the code, the perpetrator had committed an unlawful act against the state and was subject to its sanctions. Judicial action under the code, however, did not rule out the possibility of additional redress in the form of diya through civil action in the courts. Siad Barre's regime attacked this tolerance of diya, and forbade its practice entirely in 1974.

Under the Somali penal code, to be criminally liable a person must have committed an act or have been guilty of an omission that caused harm or danger to the person or property of another or to the state. Further, the offense must have been committed willfully or as the result of negligence, imprudence, or illegal behavior. Under Somali penal law, the courts assumed the accused to be innocent until proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt. In criminal prosecution, the burden of proof rested with the state.

Penal laws classed offenses as either crimes or contraventions, the latter being legal violations without criminal intent. Death by shooting was the only sentence for serious offenses such as crimes against the state and murder. The penal law usually prescribed maximum and minimum punishments but left the actual sentence to the judge's discretion.

The penal laws comprised three categories. The first dealt with general principles of jurisprudence; the second defined criminal offenses and prescribed specified punishments; the third contained sixty-one articles that regulated contraventions of public order, safety, morality, and health. Penal laws took into consideration the role of punishment in restoring the offender to a useful place in society.

The Criminal Procedure Code governed matters associated with arrest and trial. The code, which conformed to British common law, prescribed the kinds and jurisdictions of criminal courts, identified the functions and responsibilities of judicial officials, outlined the rules of evidence, and regulated the conduct of trials. Normally, a person could be arrested only if caught in the act of committing an offense or upon issuance of a warrant by the proper judicial authority. The code recognized the writ of habeas corpus. Those arrested had the right to appear before a judge within twenty-four hours.

As government opposition proliferated in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Siad Barre regime increasingly subverted or ignored Somalia's legal system. By the late 1980s, Somalia had become a police state, with citizens often falling afoul of the authorities for solely political reasons. Pressure by international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Africa Watch failed to slow Somalia's descent into lawlessness. After Siad Barre fell from power in January 1991, the new authorities promised to restore equity to the country's legal system. Given the many political, economic, and social problems confronting post-Siad Barre Somalia, however, it appeared unlikely that this goal would be achieved soon.



Somalia has provided data neither for United Nations nor INTERPOL surveys of crime; however, an estimate of crime is given in the United States State Department's Consular Information Sheet according to which .."The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Somalia. Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little warning, and kidnapping, murder, and other threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur unpredictably in many regions. While the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" in northern Somalia has been relatively peaceful, the Sanaag and Sool regions in eastern Somaliland, bordering on Puntland (northeastern Somalia), are subject to insecurity due to potential inter-clan fighting. In addition, the Mogadishu area, the Puntland region in northern Somalia, and the districts of Gedo and Bay (especially the vicinity of Baidoa) in the south have experienced serious fighting in recent months. Territorial control in the Mogadishu area is divided among numerous groups; lines of control are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within this area extremely hazardous. …incidents such as armed banditry and road assaults may occur. In addition, there have been reports of general crime and rock-throwing against aid workers outside of Hargeisa. Civil unrest persists in the rest of the country. U.S. citizens should not travel to areas other than Somaliland.

With the exception of Somaliland, crime is an extension of the general state of insecurity. Serious and violent crimes are very common. Kidnapping and robbery are a particular problem in Mogadishu and other areas in the south.

U.S. citizens are urged to use caution when sailing near the coast of Somalia. Merchant vessels, fishing boats and pleasure craft alike risk seizure and their crews being held for ransom, especially in the waters near the Horn of Africa and the Kenyan border.



At independence, Somalia had four distinct legal traditions: English common law, Italian law, Islamic sharia or religious law, and Somali customary law (traditional rulers and sanctions). The challenge after 1960 was to meld this diverse legal inheritance into one system. During the 1960s, a uniform penal code, a code of criminal court procedures, and a standardized judicial organization were introduced. The Italian system of basing judicial decisions on the application and interpretation of the legal code was retained. The courts were enjoined, however, to apply English common law and doctrines of equity in matters not governed by legislation.

In Italian Somaliland, observance of the sharia had been more common than in British Somaliland, where the application of Islamic law had been limited to cases pertaining to marriage, divorce, family disputes, and inheritance. Qadis (Muslim judges) in British Somaliland also adjudicated customary law in cases such as land tenure disputes and disagreements over the payment of diya or blood compensation. In Italian Somaliland, however, the sharia courts had also settled civil and minor penal matters, and Muslim plaintiffs had a choice of appearing before a secular judge or a qadi. After independence the differences between the two regions were resolved by making the sharia applicable in all civil matters if the dispute arose under that law. Somali customary law was retained for optional application in such matters as land tenure, water and grazing rights, and the payment of diya.

The military junta suspended the constitution of 1961 when it took power in 1969, but it initially respected other sources of law. In 1973 the Siad Barre regime introduced a unified civil code. Its provisions pertaining to inheritance, personal contracts, and water and grazing rights sharply curtailed both the sharia and Somali customary law. Siad Barre's determination to limit the influence of the country's clans was reflected in sections of the code that abolished traditional clan and lineage rights over land, water resources, and grazing. In addition, the new civil code restricted the payment of diya as compensation for death or injury to the victim or close relatives rather than to an entire diya-paying group. A subsequent amendment prohibited the payment of diya entirely.

The attorney general, who was appointed by the minister of justice, was responsible for the observance of the law and prosecution of criminal matters. The attorney general had ten deputies in the capital and several other deputies in the rest of the country. Outside of Mogadishu, the deputies of the attorney general had their offices at the regional and district courts.



Under the Siad Barre regime, several police and intelligence organizations were responsible for maintaining public order, controlling crime, and protecting the government against domestic threats. These included the Somali Police Force (SPF), the People's Militia, the NSS, and a number of other intelligencegathering operations, most of which were headed by members of the president's family. After Siad Barre's downfall, these units were reorganized or abolished.

The Somali Police Force (SPF) grew out of police forces employed by the British and Italians to maintain peace during the colonial period. Both European powers used Somalis as armed constables in rural areas. Somalis eventually staffed the lower ranks of the police forces, and Europeans served as officers. The colonial forces produced the senior officers and commanders-- including Siad Barre--who led the SPF and the army after independence. In 1884 the British formed an armed constabulary to police the northern coast. In 1910 the British created the Somaliland Coastal Police, and in 1912 they established the Somaliland Camel Constabulary to police the interior. In 1926 the colonial authorities formed the Somaliland Police Force. Commanded by British officers, the force included Somalis in its lower ranks. Armed rural constabulary (illalo) supported this force by bringing offenders to court, guarding prisoners, patrolling townships, and accompanying nomadic tribesmen over grazing areas. The Italians initially relied on military forces to maintain public order in their colony. In 1914 the authorities established a coastal police and a rural constabulary (gogle) to protect Italian residents. By 1930 this force included about 300 men. After the fascists seized power in Italy, colonial administrators reconstituted the Somali Police Corps into the Corpo Zaptié. Italian carabinieri commanded and trained the new corps, which eventually numbered approximately 800. During Italy's war against Ethiopia, the Corpo Zaptié expanded to about 6,000 men. In 1941 the British defeated the Italians and formed a British Military Administration (BMA) over both protectorates. The BMA disbanded the Corpo Zaptié and created the Somalia Gendarmerie. By 1943 this force had grown to more than 3,000 men, led by 120 British officers. In 1948 the Somalia Gendarmerie became the Somali Police Force. After the creation of the Italian Trust Territory in 1950, Italian carabinieri officers and Somali personnel from the Somali Police Force formed the Police Corps of Somalia (Corpo di Polizia della Somalia). In 1958 the authorities made the corps an entirely Somali force and changed its name to the Police Force of Somalia (Forze di Polizia della Somalia).

In 1960 the British Somaliland Scouts joined with the Police Corps of Somalia to form a new Somali Police Force, which consisted of about 3,700 men. The authorities also organized approximately 1,000 of the force as the Darawishta Poliska, a mobile group used to keep peace between warring clans in the interior. Since then, the government has considered the SPF a part of the armed forces. It was not a branch of the SNA, however, and did not operate under the army's command structure. Until abolished in 1976, the Ministry of Interior oversaw the force's national commandant and his central command. After that date, the SPF came under the control of the presidential adviser on security affairs. Each of the country's administrative regions had a police commandant; other commissioned officers maintained law and order in the districts. After 1972 the police outside Mogadishu comprised northern and southern group commands, divisional commands (corresponding to the districts), station commands, and police posts. Regional governors and district commissioners commanded regional and district police elements. Under the parliamentary regime, police received training and matériel aid from West Germany, Italy, and the United States. Although the government used the police to counterbalance the Soviet-supported army, no police commander opposed the 1969 army coup. During the 1970s, German Democratic Republic (East Germany) security advisers assisted the SPF. After relations with the West improved in the late 1970s, West German and Italian advisers again started training police units. By the late 1970s, the SPF was carrying out an array of missions, including patrol work, traffic management, criminal investigation, intelligence gathering, and counterinsurgency. The elite mobile police groups consisted of the Darawishta and the Birmadka Poliska (Riot Unit). The Darawishta, a mobile unit that operated in remote areas and along the frontier, participated in the Ogaden War. The Birmadka acted as a crack unit for emergency action and provided honor guards for ceremonial functions.

In 1961 the SPF established an air wing, equipped with Cessna light aircraft and one Douglas DC-3. The unit operated from improvised landing fields near remote police posts. The wing provided assistance to field police units and to the Darawishta through the airlift of supplies and personnel and reconnaissance. During the final days of Siad Barre's regime, the air wing operated two Cessna light aircraft and two DO-28 Skyservants. Technical and specialized police units included the Tributary Division, the Criminal Investigation Division (CID), the Traffic Division, a communications unit, and a training unit. The CID, which operated throughout the country, handled investigations, fingerprinting, criminal records, immigration matters, and passports. In 1961 the SPF established a women's unit. Personnel assigned to this small unit investigated, inspected, and interrogated female offenders and victims. Policewomen also handled cases that involved female juvenile delinquents, ill or abandoned girls, prostitutes, and child beggars. Service units of the Somali police included the Gadidka Poliska (Transport Department) and the Health Service. The Police Custodial Corps served as prison guards. In 1971 the SPF created a fifty-man national Fire Brigade. Initially, the Fire Brigade operated in Mogadishu. Later, however, it expanded its activities into other towns, including Chisimayu, Hargeysa, Berbera, Merca, Giohar, and Beledweyne. Beginning in the early 1970s, police recruits had to be seventeen to twenty-five years of age, of high moral caliber, and physically fit. Upon completion of six months of training at the National Police Academy in Mogadishu, those who passed an examination would serve two years on the force. After the recruits completed this service, the police could request renewal of their contracts. Officer cadets underwent a nine-month training course that emphasized supervision of police field performance. Darawishta members attended a six-month tactical training course; Birmadka personnel received training in public order and riot control. After Siad Barre fled Mogadishu in January 1991, both the Darawishta and Birmadka forces ceased to operate, for all practical purposes.

In August 1972, the government established the People's Militia, known as the Victory Pioneers (Guulwadayaal). Although a wing of the army, the militia worked under the supervision of the Political Bureau of the presidency. After the SRSP's formation in 1976, the militia became part of the party apparatus. Largely because of the need for military reserves, militia membership increased from 2,500 in 1977 to about 10,000 in 1979, and to approximately 20,000 by 1990. After the collapse of Siad Barre's regime, the People's Militia, like other military elements, disintegrated. The militia staffed the government and party orientation centers that were located in every settlement in Somalia. The militia aided in self-help programs, encouraged "revolutionary progress," promoted and defended Somali culture, and fought laziness, misuse of public property, and "reactionary" ideas and actions. Moreover, the militia acted as a law enforcement agency that performed duties such as checking contacts between Somalis and foreigners. The militia also had powers of arrest independent of the police. In rural areas, militiamen formed "vigilance corps" that guarded grazing areas and towns. After Siad Barre fled Mogadishu in January 1991, militia members tended to join one of the insurgent groups or clan militias.

Shortly after Siad Barre seized power, the Soviet Committee of State Security (Komitet Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti--KGB) helped Somalia form the National Security Service (NSS). This organization, which operated outside normal bureaucratic channels, developed into an instrument of domestic surveillance, with powers of arrest and investigation. The NSS monitored the professional and private activities of civil servants and military personnel, and played a role in the promotion and demotion of government officials. As the number of insurgent movements proliferated in the late 1980s, the NSS increased its activities against dissidents, rebel sympathizers, and other government opponents. Until the downfall of Siad Barre's regime, the NSS remained an elite organization staffed by men from the SNA and the police force who had been chosen for their loyalty to the president. After the withdrawal of the last U.N. peacekeepers in 1995, clan and factional militias, in some cases supplemented by local police forces established with U.N. help in the early 1990's, continued to function with varying degrees of effectiveness. Intervention by Ethiopian troops in 1996 and 1997 helped to maintain order in Gedo region by closing down the training bases of the Islamic group Al'Ittihad Al-Islami (AIAI). In Somaliland more than 60 percent of the budget was allocated to maintaining a militia and police force composed of former troops. In 2000 a Somaliland presidential decree, citing national security concerns in the wake of the conclusion of the Djibouti Conference, delegated special powers to the police and the military. Also in 2000, the TNG began recruiting for a new 4,000-officer police force to restore order in Mogadishu. The TNG requested former soldiers to register and enroll in training camps to form a national army. At year's end 2001, the TNG had a 3,500-officer police force and a militia of approximately 5,000 persons. During the year 2001, 7,000 former non-TNG militia were demobilized to retrain them for service with the TNG; however, many of the militia members left the demobilization camps after the TNG was unable to pay their salaries for 3 months. At year's end 2001, the TNG was attempting to restore salaries and to continue the demobilization process. During the year 2001, Mogadishu police began to patrol in the TNG-controlled areas of the city. Police and militia committed numerous human rights abuses throughout the country. Many civilian citizens were killed in factional fighting, especially in Gedo, Hiran, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Middle Juba, Lower Juba regions, and in the cities of Mogadishu and Bosasso. Kidnaping remained a problem. There were some reports of the use of torture by Somaliland and Puntland administrations and militias. In Somaliland and Puntland, police used lethal force while disrupting demonstrations. The use of landmines, reportedly by the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), resulted in several deaths.

Political violence and banditry have been endemic since the revolt against Siad Barre, who fled the capital in January 1991. Since that time, tens of thousands of persons, mostly noncombatants, have died in interfactional and interclan fighting. The vast majority of killings throughout the year resulted from clashes between militias or unlawful militia activities; several occurred during land disputes, and a small number involved common criminal activity. The number of killings increased from 2000 as a result of fighting between the following groups: Between the RRA and TNG; between the TNG and warlord Muse Sudi in Mogadishu; between warlord Hussein Aideed and the TNG; between Abdullahi Yusuf's forces and those of Jama Ali Jama in Puntland; and between the SRRC and Jubaland Alliance in Kismayo. Security forces and police killed several persons, and in some instances used lethal force to disperse demonstrators during the year 2001. For example, on February 3, in Bosasso, security forces and police shot and killed 1 woman and injured 11 other persons during a demonstration. On August 23, Somaliland police, who were arresting supporters of elders for protesting actions of President Egal, killed a small child during an exchange of gunfire. On August 28, in Mogadishu, TNG police reportedly killed two young brothers. There were no investigations, and no action was taken against the perpetrators during the year 2001. Unlike in the previous year, Islamic courts did not execute summarily any persons during the year 2001. Killings resulted from conflicts between security and police forces and militias during the year.

There were no known reports of unresolved politically motivated disappearances, although cases easily might have been concealed among the thousands of refugees and displaced persons.

There continued to be reports of kidnapings of aid workers during the year 2001. There were numerous kidnapings by militia groups and armed assailants who demanded ransom for hostages.

The Transitional National Charter, adopted in 2000 but not implemented by year's end 2001, prohibits torture, and the Puntland Charter prohibits torture "unless sentenced by Islamic Shari'a courts in accordance with Islamic law;" however, there were some reports of the use of torture by the Puntland and Somaliland administrations and by warring militiamen against each other or against civilians. Observers believe that many incidents of torture were not reported.

Security forces killed and injured persons while forcibly dispersing demonstrations during the year 2001. Security forces, police, and militias also injured persons during the year, including supporters and members of the TNG.

The Transitional Charter, adopted in 2000 but not implemented by year's end 2001, provides for the sanctity of private property and privacy; however, looting and forced entry into private property continued in Mogadishu, although on a smaller scale than in previous years. The Puntland Charter recognizes the right to private property; however, the authorities did not respect this right on at least one occasion.

Militia members reportedly confiscated persons' possessions as punishment during extortion attempts during the year 2001.

Most properties that were occupied forcibly during militia campaigns in 1992-93, notably in Mogadishu and the Lower Shabelle, remained in the hands of persons other than their prewar owners.

Approximately 300,000 persons, or 4 percent of the population, are internally displaced persons (IDP's) as a result of interfactional and interclan fighting.



In the absence of constitutional or other legal protections, various factions and armed bandits continued to engage in arbitrary detention, including the holding of relief workers.

On February 26, a U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) academic who was in Garowe, Puntland to conduct a seminar, was arrested and charged with distributing antigovernment leaflets; he was released after paying a fine.

On May 22, authorities in Somaliland arrested and detained Suleiman Mohamoud Adan "Gaal" for holding meetings outside of Somaliland with Djibouti President Gelleh and TNG members; on June 5, he was released.

On June 12, warlord Muse Sudi's militia arrested six clan elders for attending a meeting to discuss clan affairs, because he reportedly believed that they were attempting to undermine his authority; the elders were released after several days.

On June 13, the Puntland Administration arrested two intellectuals reportedly for engaging in antigovernment political activities; they were released after a few days.

On August 23, Somaliland President Egal ordered the detention of approximately 10 elders. After fighting between Somaliland authorities and supporters of the elders, four sultans (sub-clan chiefs)_and one of their supporters were arrested. On September 3, President Egal ordered their release.

On September 24, the RRA in Burhakaba arrested 11 pro-TNG elders and accused them of fomenting division and dissension within the Rahanwein clan.

Unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that Somaliland authorities detained foreigners for proselytizing. Seven Christian Ethiopians arrested in Somaliland in 1999 for allegedly attempting to proselytize were released at the beginning of the year.

Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that authorities in Somaliland, Puntland, and in areas of the south detained local or foreign journalists.

It was unknown whether persons detained in 2000 were released during the year 2001.

There were no developments in the following arrest cases from 2000: The September arrests of five persons by Somaliland police, and the March detention of five persons by the Puntland region security committee.

There were no developments in the arrests of the following persons arrested by the Somaliland authorities in 2000 for participating in the Djibouti Conference: Sultan Mohamed Abdulkadir, who was arrested in November; Bile Mahmud Qabowsadeh, who was arrested in October; and Abdi Hashi, who was arrested in May.

There were no reports of lengthy pretrial detention in violation of the pre-1991 Penal Code in Somaliland or Puntland.

None of the factions used forced exile.


Over the centuries, the Somalis developed a system of handling disputes or acts of violence, including homicide, as wrongs involving not only the parties immediately concerned but also the clans to which they belonged. The offending party and his group would pay diya to the injured party and his clan. The British and Italians enforced criminal codes based on their own judicial systems in their respective colonies, but did not seriously disrupt the diya-paying system.

After independence the Somali government developed its own laws and procedures, which were largely based on British and Italian legal codes. Somali officials made no attempt to develop a uniquely Somali criminal justice system, although diya- paying arrangements continued.

The military junta that seized power in 1969 changed little of the criminal justice system it inherited. However, the government launched a campaign against diya and the concept of collective responsibility for crimes. This concept is the most distinctly Somali of any in the criminal justice system. The regime instead concentrated on extending the influence of laws introduced by the British and Italians. This increased the government's control over an area of national life previously regulated largely by custom.

The constitution of 1961 had provided for a unified judiciary independent of the executive and the legislature. A 1962 law integrated the courts of northern and southern Somalia into a four-tiered system: the Supreme Court, courts of appeal, regional courts, and district courts. Sharia courts were discontinued although judges were expected to take the sharia into consideration when making decisions. The Siad Barre government did not fundamentally alter this structure; nor had the provisional government made any significant changes as of May 1992.

At the lowest level of the Somali judicial system were the eighty-four district courts, each of which consisted of civil and criminal divisions. The civil division of the district court had jurisdiction over matters requiring the application of the sharia, or customary law, and suits involving claims of up to 3,000 Somali shillings (for value of the shilling, see Glossary). The criminal division of the district court had jurisdiction over offenses punishable by fines or prison sentences of less than three years.

There were eight regional courts, each consisting of three divisions. The ordinary division had jurisdiction over penal and civil cases considered too serious to be heard by the district courts. The assize division considered only major criminal cases, that is, those concerning crimes punishable by more than ten years' imprisonment. A third division handled cases pertaining to labor legislation. In both the district and regional courts, a single magistrate, assisted by two laymen, heard cases, decided questions of fact, and voted on the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Somalia's next-highest tier of courts consisted of the two courts of appeal. The court of appeals for the southern region sat at Mogadishu, and the northern region's court of appeals sat at Hargeysa. Each court of appeal had two divisions. The ordinary division heard appeals of district court decisions and of decisions of the ordinary division of the regional courts, whereas the assize division was only for appeals from the regional assize courts. A single judge presided over cases in both divisions. Two laymen assisted the judge in the ordinary division, and four laymen assisted the judge in the assize division. The senior judges of the courts of appeal, who were called presidents, administered all the courts in their respective regions.

The Supreme Court, which sat at Mogadishu, had ultimate authority for the uniform interpretation of the law. It heard appeals of decisions and judgments of the lower courts and of actions taken by public attorneys, and settled questions of court jurisdiction. The Supreme Court was composed of a chief justice, who was referred to as the president, a vice president, nine surrogate justices, and four laymen. The president, two other judges, and four laymen constituted a full panel for plenary sessions of the Supreme Court. In ordinary sessions, one judge presided with the assistance of two other judges and two laymen. The president of the Supreme Court decided whether a case was to be handled in plenary or ordinary session, on the basis of the importance of the matter being considered.

Although the military government did not change the basic structure of the court system, it did introduce a major new institution, the National Security Courts (NSCs), which operated outside the ordinary legal system and under the direct control of the executive. These courts, which sat at Mogadishu and the regional capitals, had jurisdiction over serious offenses defined by the government as affecting the security of the state, including offenses against public order and crimes by government officials. The NSC heard a broad range of cases, passing sentences for embezzlement by public officials, murder, political activities against the state, and thefts of government food stocks. A senior military officer was president of each NSC. He was assisted by two other judges, usually also military officers. A special military attorney general prosecuted cases brought before the NSC. No other court, not even the Supreme Court, could review NSC sentences. Appeals of NSC verdicts could be taken only to the president of the republic. Opponents of the Siad Barre regime accused the NSC of sentencing hundreds of people to death for political reasons. In October 1990, Siad Barre announced the abolition of the widely feared and detested courts; as of May 1992, the NSCs had not been reinstituted by the provisional government.

Before the 1969 coup, the Higher Judicial Council had responsibility for the selection, promotion, and discipline of members of the judiciary. The council was chaired by the president of the Supreme Court and included justices of the court, the attorney general, and three members elected by the National Assembly. In 1970 military officers assumed all positions on the Higher Judicial Council. The effect of this change was to make the judiciary accountable to the executive. One of the announced aims of the provisional government after the defeat of Siad Barre was the restoration of judicial independence.

As of year 2001, there is no national judicial system.

The Transitional Charter, adopted in 2000, provides for an independent judiciary and for a High Commission of Justice, a Supreme Court, a Court of Appeal, and courts of first reference; however, the Charter had not been implemented by year's end 2001. Some regions have established local courts that depend on the predominant local clan and associated factions for their authority. The judiciary in most regions relies on some combination of traditional and customary law, Shari'a law, the Penal Code of the pre-1991 Siad Barre Government, or some combination of the three. For example, in Bosasso and Afmadow, criminals are turned over to the families of their victims, which then exact blood compensation in keeping with local tradition. Under the system of customary justice, clans often hold entire opposing clans or sub-clans responsible for alleged violations by individuals.

Islamic Shari'a courts, which traditionally ruled in cases of civil and family law but extended their jurisdiction to criminal proceedings in some regions beginning in 1994, ceased to function effectively in the country during the year 2001. The Islamic courts in Mogadishu gradually were absorbed during the year 2001 by the TNG, and the courts in Merka and Beledweyne ceased to function. In Berbera courts apply a combination of Shari'a law and the former Penal Code. In south Mogadishu, a segment of north Mogadishu, the Lower Shabelle, and parts of the Gedo and Hiran regions, court decisions are based on a combination of Shari'a and customary law. Throughout most of the country, customary law forms a basis for court decisions.

In 2000 Somaliland adopted a new Constitution based on democratic principles but continued to use the pre-1991 Penal Code. The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary is not independent in practice. A U.N. report issued in 2000 noted a serious lack of trained judges and of legal documentation in Somaliland, which caused problems in the administration of justice. Untrained police and other persons reportedly served as judges. The Puntland Charter implemented in 1998 provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judiciary is not independent in practice. The Puntland Charter also provides for a Supreme Court, courts of appeal, and courts of first reference. In Puntland clan elders resolved the majority of cases using traditional methods; however, those with no clan representation in Puntland were subject to the Administration's judicial system.

The Transitional Charter, which was not implemented by year's end 2001, provides for the right to be represented by an attorney. The right to representation by an attorney and the right to appeal do not exist in those areas that apply traditional and customary judicial practices or Shari'a law. These rights more often are respected in regions that continue to apply the former government's penal code, such as Somaliland and Puntland.

In January more than 50 gunmen attacked an Islamic court in Mogadishu and released 48 prisoners and looted the premises; the motivation for the attack remained unknown at year's end 2001.

There were no reports of political prisoners.



The few prisons that existed before 1960 had been established during the British and Italian colonial administrations. By independence these facilities were in poor condition and were inadequately staffed.

After independence the Somali government included in the constitution an article asserting that criminal punishment must not be an obstacle to convicts' moral reeducation. This article also established a prison organization and emphasized prisoner rehabilitation.

The Somali Penal Code of 1962 effectively stipulated the reorganization of the prison system. The code required that prisoners of all ages work during prison confinement. In return for labor on prison farms, construction projects, and roadbuilding, prisoners received a modest salary, which they could spend in prison canteens or retain until their release. The code also outlawed the imprisonment of juveniles with adults.

By 1969 Somalia's prison system included forty-nine facilities, the best-equipped of which was the Central Prison of Mogadishu. During the 1970s, East Germany helped Somalia build four modern prisons. As opposition to Siad Barre's regime intensified, the country's prisons became so crowded that the government used schools, military and police headquarters, and part of the presidential palace as makeshift jails. Despite criticism by several international humanitarian agencies, the Somali government failed to improve the prison system.

As of year 2001, prison conditions varied throughout the country; however, in general they remained harsh, and in some cases, life threatening. Conditions at the north Mogadishu prison of the Shari'a court system remained harsh and life threatening. Hareryale, a prison established between north and south Mogadishu reportedly holds hundreds of prisoners, including children. Conditions at Hareryale are described as overcrowded and poor. Similar conditions exist at Shirkhole prison, an Islamic Court Militia run prison in south Mogadishu and at north Mogadishu prison for Abgel clan prisoners run by warlord Musa Sudi. In September the U.N. Secretary General's Independent Expert on Human Rights, Dr. Ghanim Alnajar, visited prisons in Hargeisa and Mogadishu. Alnajar reported that conditions had not improved in the 3 years since his previous visit.

Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, a lack of access to adequate health care, and an absence of education and vocational training characterized prisons throughout the country. Tuberculosis was widespread. Abuse by guards reportedly was common in many prisons. Pretrial detainees and political prisoners are held separately from convicted prisoners.

According to an international observer, men and women are housed separately in the Puntland prison in Bosasso; this is the case in other prisons as well. Juveniles frequently are housed with adults in prisons. Custom allows parents to place children in prison without judicial proceedings.

The detainees' clans generally pay the costs of detention. In many areas, prisoners are able to receive food from family members or from relief agencies. Ethnic minorities make up a disproportionately large percentage of the prison population.

The Puntland Administration permits prison visits by independent monitors. Somaliland authorities permit prison visits by independent monitors, and such visits occurred during the year 2001. The Jumale Center for Human Rights visited prisons in Mogadishu during the year 2001.



Domestic violence against women exists, although there are no reliable statistics on its prevalence. Women suffered disproportionately in the civil war and in the strife that followed. There was no information available on the prevalence of domestic violence in the country. There are no laws that specifically address domestic violence; however, both Shari'a law and customary law address the resolution of family disputes. Rape commonly is practiced in inter-clan conflicts. Laws prohibiting rape exist; however, they are not enforced. There are no laws against spousal rape. A few rapes were prosecuted during the year 2001. There were reports of numerous rapes of Somali women and girls in refugee camps in Kenya during the year 2001.

Female genital mutilation (FGM), which is condemned widely by international experts as damaging to both physical and psychological health, is a near-universal practice. Estimates place the percentage of women who have undergone FGM at 98 percent. The majority of women are subjected to infibulation, the most harmful form of FGM. In Somaliland FGM remains illegal under the Penal Code; however, the law is not enforced. In 1999 Puntland authorities passed legislation banning FGM in northeastern areas of the country; however, in practice the law is not enforced strictly. While U.N. agencies and NGO's have made intensive efforts to educate persons about the danger of FGM, no reliable statistics are available on the success of their programs.

Trafficking in women for the purposes of sexual exploitation continued to be a problem.

Women are subordinated systematically in the country's overwhelmingly patriarchal culture. Polygyny is permitted, but polyandry is not. Under laws issued by the former government, female children could inherit property, but only half of the amount to which their brothers were entitled. Similarly according to the Shari'a and Somali tradition of blood compensation, those found guilty in the death of a woman must pay only half as much to the aggrieved family as they would if the victim were a man.

Several women's groups in Mogadishu, Hargeisa (Somaliland), Bosasso (Puntland), and Merka (Lower Shabelle) actively promoted equal rights for women and advocated the inclusion of women in responsible government positions. Women's groups played a prominent role in the Djibouti Conference.



Children remain among the chief victims of the continuing violence. Boys as young as 14 or 15 years of age have participated in militia attacks, and many youths are members of the marauding gangs known as "morian," "parasites," or "maggots." Even in areas with relative security, the lack of resources has limited the opportunity for children to attend school. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of the school-age population attends school; more boys than girls are enrolled in school. There are three secondary schools in Somaliland and more than three secondary schools in Mogadishu; however, only 10 percent of those few children who enter primary school graduate from secondary school. Parents generally pay fees for their children's education. Schools at all levels lack textbooks, laboratory equipment, and running water. Teachers are trained poorly and paid poorly. The literacy rate is approximately 25 percent throughout the country; however, reliable statistics do not exist. There was a continued influx of foreign Muslim teachers into the country to teach in new private Koranic schools. These schools are inexpensive and provide basic education; however, there were reports that these schools required the veiling of small girls and other conservative Islamic practices normally not found in the local culture. In 1999 the Somaliland authorities drafted guidelines for a national education policy; however, no action on such a policy was taken by year's end 2001.

Medical care is rudimentary, and only a small percentage of children have access to adequate medical facilities.

There was no information available on the prevalence of child abuse in the country.

There were reports of numerous rapes of Somali girls in refugee camps in Kenya during the year 2001.

FGM is performed on approximately 98 percent of girls.

Child labor is a problem, and there were reports that trafficking in children for forced labor also is a problem.



The pre-1991 Penal Code prohibits trafficking; however, there were some reports of trafficking during the year 2001. In 2000 Djibouti law enforcement authorities arrested members of a group that was smuggling Somali women to destinations such as Lebanon and Syria to work in brothels. The number of women being trafficked from the country appears to be small. There were reports that trafficking in children for forced labor is a serious problem.

The United States does not have diplomatic representation in Somalia. This report draws in part on non-U.S. Government sources.


Internet research assisted by Carlos Gomez

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