Somalia: protest forced evictions in Mogadishu

Thousands of displaced persons who have taken refuge in Somalia's capital Mogadishu are being forcibly evicted from makeshift camps as the government presses ahead with plans to clean up the city, Amnesty said in a briefing released Sept. 13. "It is completely unacceptable for people who have fled to the capital for protection to be forcibly evicted. It has resulted in large scale human rights abuses," said Gemma Davies, Amnesty's Somalia researcher. "The government has a responsibility to protect this vulnerable sector of society and ensure their security." More than 300,000 live in settlements in Mogadishu, where they are sheltering from cyclical drought, famine and the two-decades-long armed conflict.

Somali Islamic scholars denounce Shabab in fatwa

Some 160 Somali religious scholars came together in Mogadishu on Set. 11 to issue a fatwa denouncing al-Shabab, saying the rebel group has no place in Islam. The Fatwa calls al-Shabab a "strayed group," and called upon members to repent from its "criminal acts." It asserted that Somalia's interim government is a Muslim government and it is illegal to call it "apostate" or to wield arms against it. It forbids Muslims from joining or providing support to al-Shabab, and mandates support for the government's fight against the rebels.

Somali militants in Kenya incursion

At least 10 Shabaab rebel fighters were reportedly killed in heavy clashes with Kenyan security forces Aug. 21 after the Somali rebels crossed the border and attacked a military patrol. Local authorities in the town of Garissa, North Eastern state, said Shabaab fighters attacked a Kenyan border patrol with grenades, mortars and small arms, sparking a battle that lasted for nearly an hour, residents said. There was a similar incident last week, when Shabaab fighters raided a police post at Galmagala, in Garissa county's Fafi district, some 10 kilometers from Somalia's border, killing four officers and seizing weapons. (Garowe Online via AllAfrica, Aug. 22)

US awards $15 million to Somali torture victim

A judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Aug. 20 awarded (CJA press release, PDF) $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages to a victim of torture at the hands of a Somali military colonel some 25 years ago. Judge George Smith determined in November that constitutional law professor Abukar Hassan Ahmed was arbitrarily detained by Col. Abdi Aden Magan's subordinates for three months in 1988. The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ahmed in 2010, when Magan was residing in Ohio. This is the largest amount ever awarded in a US court for the torture of one individual by another, but since Magan has left the US it is uncertain whether Ahmed could ever actually receive any damages. Ahmed currently serves as an adviser to the president of Somalia.

Somalia Supreme Court attacked by al-Shabaab

Al-Shabaab radicals launched an assault on April 14 against Somalia's Supreme Court. The attack, resulting in at least 35 deaths, was one of the worst attacks in years for the country's capital of Mogadishu. According to the Somali government, nine men were involved in the attack against the court, six of whom detonated explosive vests. Al-Shabab retained control over most of Somalia's capital before Somali forces and the African Union forced the militants out of Mogadishu in 2011. Since being forced out of the capital, al-Shabaab has carried out a series of bomb attack in the city, with the new coordinated attack amounting to the largest one since 2011. The Somali government reported that all of the attackers died, with some killed by security forces.

Puntland sentences Shabab militants to death

Twelve men charged with the murder of a prominent Islamic scholar, including Shabaab's purported leader, were sentenced to death after a court found them guilty in Bosaso, commercial capital of Somalia's autonomous enclave of Puntland. The Puntland North Eastern regional Military Court sentenced the 12, including Shabab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane, to death by firing squad. Under Puntland law, all terrorism cases are held at military courts. Sheikh Ahmed Haji Abdirahman, a cleric, professor and doctor, was shot dead as he was leaving a mosque near his home in Bosaso in December 2011. The killing sparked an international outcry from the Somali diaspora around the world. The deceased Sheikh Abdirahman's friend and colleague Sheikh Abdiqadir Nur Farah—who spoke out against Shabab after Abdirahman was killed—was recently killed in Puntland's political capital Garowe while praying at a mosque. (Garowe Online , Feb. 27 via All Africa)

Somalia sentences alleged rape victim, journalist

A Somali court on Feb. 5 sentenced a woman who accused Somali security forces of rape to a year in prison for insulting a government body and making false claims. The same court in Mogadishu also sentenced freelance reporter Abdiaziz Abdinur Ibrahim, who interviewed the woman in January, to a year in prison on the same charges. Both sentences have been criticized by human rights groups. Human Rights Watch (HRW) condemned the charges as "politically motivated" and "a mockery of the new Somali government's priorities."

East, West Africa top global piracy: report

Piracy on the world's seas reached a five-year low last year, with 297 ships attacked in 2012, compared with 439 in 2011, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) said in its annual global piracy report. Worldwide figures were brought down by international efforts against Somali piracy, the repor found, though East and West Africa remained the worst hit areas, with 150 attacks in 2012. Globally, 174 ships were boarded by pirates last year, while 28 were hijacked and 28 were fired upon. IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre also recorded 67 attempted attacks. The number of people taken hostage onboard fell to 585 from 802 in 2011, while a further 26 were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria. Six crewmembers were killed and 32 were injured or assaulted.

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