MOGADISHU, 19 October 2019 – Twenty-six security personnel from the Somali National Army (SNA) and the Federal Ministry of Defence have completed a five-day training on human rights and child protection.
The five-day training, organised by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in collaboration with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (RDCSI), was aimed at enhancing Somali security forces’ compliance with the International Human Rights Law.
The recruitment and use of child soldiers as combatants in armed conflict by terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab remains a key concern in Somalia.
Presently, AMISOM is implementing a conditions-based, gradual transfer of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces under the Somalia Transition Plan. Under the plan, AMISOM is supporting the Somali security forces to build capacity to prevent recruitment and use of children as fighters.
Participants in the training, held in Mogadishu, included Child Protection focal persons drawn from SNA units across the country and officials from the Child Protection Unit in the Federal Ministry of Defence.
Speaking at the end of the training on Thursday, the Federal Minister of Defence, Hassan Ali Mohamed, reiterated the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the protection of children.
“Our message is loud and clear. Violations of human rights should end, especially recruitment and use of child soldiers,” he declared. “This is in line with the relevant United Nations Resolution relating to issues of child soldiers, as well as respect for human rights.”
According to the Minister, ending such violations is part of the Somali National Army’s goal to preserve human rights in times of war and peace.
“Children should not be recruited as soldiers, and this is our message,” the Minister emphasised.
He urged the focal persons to take personal initiative to gain more knowledge in human rights and child protection, and apply the knowledge acquired to carry out their duties.
The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, reiterated that the training was crucial to AMISOM’s exit strategy.
“It is by no mistake that they selected you as Child Protection focal persons, critical to mainstreaming Child Protection across Somalia. Completion of this training marks an important milestone in the professionalisation of the SNA,” Ambassador Madeira, who is also the head of AMISOM, told the participants.
“SNA should execute its obligations in compliance with the relevant international obligations under the human rights and International Humanitarian Law,” he added.
According to the RDCSI Regional Training Manager for Africa, Musa Gbow, the trainees gained adequate knowledge to enable them to perform their duties. The participants received certificates at the end of the training.
Commenting on the outcome of the training, AMISOM Human Rights Officer, Ulrike Khabila Mbuton, said participants resolved to ensure reporting of violations against children and coordinate with the Child Protection Unit in the Federal Ministry of Defence to address these violations.
Lt. Col Mukhtar Hassan Tifow, from Benadir region, said they had gained valuable knowledge to ensure the protection of children. “We will not let these efforts and resources go to waste,” noted Lt. Col. Mukhtar.
2Lt. Sumaya Jowhar Badal, also said the training had capacitated her to deter child recruitment. “We are grateful to our instructors for taking the time to enhance our knowledge,” she added.