Statement on The allegation that Amisom troops have raped vulnerable Somali women.
Allegations of rape against AMISOM need thorough investigation
The allegation that AMISOM troops have raped vulnerable Somali women, sometimes with children, seeking assistance at their bases is grave. AMISOM is in Somalia to protect the Somali people while the state and its institutions strengthen to enable the federal government to fully take over in the future. They are not funded by the international community to inflict misery and pain on the very vulnerable people they are there to assist.
The research carried out by Human Rights Watch is most welcome as it is independent, robust and has the representation of Somalia’s most vulnerable and, often neglected, at its heart. The Somali government’s swift condemnation and call for an investigation is also commendable. Rape under Somali customary law was punishable by death and clans often went to war in the past over the mere accusations. However, in this case it appears as though intimidation, poverty and fear of stigma and social isolation could have allowed the alleged heinous criminal acts to take place right under the eyes of the AMISOM leadership and, in their heavily fortified camps.
Somalia has just emerged from a near quarter century of civil war but Somalis dearly cherish and respect their sister, mothers, aunts and wives. Women in Somalia society are working hard to achieve and succeed but like in every society, there are those who prey on the most vulnerable. This is intolerable and an absolute breach of the most basic of Human Rights.
The fear for the Somalia community at home and abroad is that the alleged abuses stretch to and are tolerated by the very leaders who ought to be monitoring them and punishing the perpetrators within AMISOM. This is a great shame as AMISOM has lately been gathering momentum and support from the Somali communities, both at home and abroad, as a result of their collaboration with the Somali national army to drive out AlShabaab from key Somali cities.
It is unfair to paint all AMISOM soldiers with the same brush as most are decent, hard working men and women who have left their own homes to serve in Somalia. Many we spoke to on the ground were disgusted by the mere thought of what allegedly happened.
However, the allegations made by the victims in the Human Rights Watch research shows that a few rotten apples can spoil the lot.
AMISOM has accepted that the allegations are serious and that they will be properly investigated and measures will be taken in the future where they are corroborated. We ask that the process of investigation be transparent, fair and in the end, justice be delivered for all concerned.
On the general issue of protecting women from violence and exploitation, it is crucial that the Somali government works closely with donor nations, local and international NGO’s and pressure groups as well as local communities to drive home the message that it will not be tolerated. It will not be tolerated because we value our women and all women for that matter.