Let us Stop Violence against Children in Somalia

Children should be taken care of and ought not to be subjected to inhumane actions, because it is morally and legally wrong to do so. The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights states  that ‘’everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed therein, without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status’’. The security situation in Somalia is highly volatile with constant attacks from different armed state and non-state actors including the terror groupal Shabab. These hostilities tend to acutely affect children in Somalia. The state of children in Somalia has been of great concern especially to the international institutions that are concerned with human and children’s rights.

According to the Human Rights Watch ‘World Report’, 2017, over 1 million Somalis remain internally displaced, facing grave human rights violations, and are restricted access to basic amenities. In addition, at least 64 death sentences were reported in 2016 and 12 of them were suspected to be children. Fighting associated with the military forces against the militia, clan wars over scarce resources, competition for political muscle and forced displacements make children more vulnerable.

Ill treatment by the government and security apparatus such as the Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), arbitrary arrests, and detaining children purposely to act as informants against al Shabab was also reported. The militias also recruit children forcefully as child soldiers through focal points such as Duksis (Quranic Schools) where they (al Shabab) radicalize children, forcing them to fight on the front-lines. The children are also used to attack schools. These actions go against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), for which Somalia is signatory to.

Children have been tried in military courts instead of civil courts where they undergo extreme torture. Sexual violence against children and women by the armed men, including the government soldiers and the militias, is also widespread.

According to the End of Childhood Report, by Save the Children in 2017, out of 172 countries, Somalia was ranked 168 where childhood is most threatened. The report also shows that early marriages are common, and nearly 2.3 million of the Somali population is displaced and have no access to education. The children are mostly affected by the protracted armed conflict. According to the Washington Post, AMISOM has a new exit strategy from Somalia. It is not clear how the withdrawal will affect the children in Somalia in the days to come. Notwithstanding this, the rights of the children of Somalia should be protected.

 Asia M.Yusuf , Communications and Research Department, the HORN Institute.

Comments are disabled.