Somaliland: State of Affairs of HRC’s Annual Final Report



Foreword: iv
Acknowledgements. v
Executive Summary. 1
Methodology. 4
The Conditions of Jail Stations.6
Conditions of the Detainees.8
Arbitrary Detention.10
Detention and harassment of opposition politicians 10
Freedom of expression and press freedom.12
Detention of journalists.16
Police Brutality .18
Gender and sexual Violence .22
Internally Displaced People .24
Forced Evictions. 27
About the HRC .28


I am pleased to present this report, covering the entire year of 2021 as the chairperson of the  Human Rights Center.  

As I pen this foreword, we have seen many challenges that affects our society and ourselves,  presenting an enormous test of leadership and humanity. In these unnerving times, the  importance of our work has become even more evident. As you will discover previously in our  reports, the past two years in addition to the global pandemic of COVID-19 presented drastic  challenges to our world and country. Environmental and climate disasters, along with rampant  disregard to basic fundamental rights enshrined in our constitution by those elected have  introduced new ways in which we must rise to the challenge and pave a new way to solve these  challenging tasks to prevent, protect and consistently promote the human rights of the citizens of  Somaliland. 

This report emphasizes the troubling number of increased violations and abuses of human rights  in our country, the gaps that exists, and the demanding increasing in which viable options must  be presented by all of us in our own capacities. At the same time, our work of detailing and  documenting these violations and abuses will not stop nor will it be hindered by the stalling  tactics and horrendous negotiations of those in charge to deter us from sounding the alarm on  misuse of judicial and executive powers. We ask for accountability and transparency within our  country and institutions, before the lines become marred and the work gained becomes  irrelevant.  

As we approach the new year, I am cognizant of the need for strengthened efforts of everyone,  the resilience of Somalilanders in the face of many crises. I look forward to the lessons learned,  the change and impact forward and the hope that further violations and abuses are no longer just  dependent on human rights activists, but the whole of our country, uniting us all against those  that perpetuate violence and disregard our supreme laws. 



Human Rights Center thanks the dedicated volunteers, members and staff who made this report  possible to be published. We are grateful to all of them and appreciate their helpful contributions  and support. We thank the organizations who collaborate and take part in creating advocacy  within our organization.  

HRC is also grateful to the individuals interviewed who shared with us their experience and  stories detailed in this report. We thank you for granting us your time and allowing us into your  homes to include your voices in this report. 

Executive Summary 

This is the annual report and accounts made by Human Rights Center between January 2021 to  December 2021. Somaliland is located in the horn of Africa and declared self-independence from  Somalia in 1991 after the government of Somalia collapsed led by the dictator Mohammed Said Barre. While not officially recognized, Somaliland attributes much of its success to the relative  peace and elections held periodically. The constitution of Somaliland was ratified in a  referendum held in 2001 containing a Bill of Rights and recognizes international treaties such as  the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

Each year, the Human Rights Center disseminates an annual report to inform people and  government of Somaliland of issues that rightly need improvement in proper governance and  human rights sector. In this year alone, we have seen an increasing trend of arbitrary arrests,  detentions, violations of freedom of expression and a complete misuse of judicial and executive  powers granted to officials elected. Furthermore, the number of journalists arrested for merely  doing their jobs and reporting on the state of affairs of Somaliland has increased. These  journalists are not arrested for crimes committed personally, nor have they stolen state secrets  but reporting on daily issues facing Somalilanders. As such, this report highlights arbitrary  arrests of journalists and citizens, police brutality, and internally displaced people.  

The areas covered in this report include:  

  • 10 opposition leaders arrested, a total of 114 individuals arrested for cases related to  freedom of expression around the region 
  • Police brutality cases  
  • Sexual gender-based violence- Hindi Omar was brutally raped and murdered while on  public transportation

  • Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)- HRC visited camps located in Burco and  Hargeisa to document the continuous displacement, forced evictions, and lack of  basic fundamentals provided by the government such as health, shelter, education,  security and food.  
  • Prison and jail stations- HRC visited jails and prisons in the region, however limited  access granted, to document and highlight the conditions of the accused person and  the environment in which they are being held in. 


To the government of Somaliland:  

Implement the Rape and Sexual Offences Act; Adopt an implementation strategy to  implement to ensure the law is fully enforced and acts are criminalized. 

Respect articles related to the freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution,  decriminalize opinion sharing on any media, and halt the detentions and prosecutions of  journalists and citizens.  

Fair trial procedure misconduct violates the rights of the accused  

There needs to be an oversight committee for the police force-impunity should not be  ignored for misconduct of an officer 

Carry out a comprehensive reform on police and justice sector to comply with fair trial  practices  

Impunity should not be ignored, especially in the context of Somaliland’s democratic  processes 

Accused persons detained in jails and prisons should be treated with respect and dignity  Jails and prisons should be renovated. The conditions of the jails and prisons are not  conducive to holding anyone, as it violates many international laws. 

Government involvement is needed to protect and provide fundamental rights for  Internally Displaced Persons or people. 


This year’s annual report was possible by the research conducted by Human Rights Center staff  and monitors in the regions of Somaliland. HRC periodically monitors and documents human  rights abuses and violations, verifying and recording the information on a database. At any given  time, HRC staff and monitors actively research, report and advocate for change in Somaliland, so  that we can challenge ingrained and fixed violations in Somaliland. We work on establishing  proven and consistent methodology based on information gathered from various sources of  information, and field-based research in our foundation. HRC staff and sources regularly do site  visits in their own regions. HRC conducts field investigations, interviewing victims, accused  person, evicted or displaced people at the center of our reporting and advocacy. Our goal with  any research or information is to gain enough verifiable information about an incident or  repeated incident violation to bring into being an accurate picture of what occurred.  

While there is no uniformed way in which we conduct interviews and focus group discussions,  what is consistent to interviewing and conducting research is standardized within the  organization: evidence and story to corroborate statements, truthful information, monitors remain  impartial, and protecting the security and dignity of witness. Most of the commonly utilized  techniques in the organization are interviewing witnesses and victims to conduct interviews in  private settings, focus group discussions or telephone interviews. Apart from field research used  during our reporting and research, we employ legislative and policies in the country, civil society  reports, and international laws during reporting season. As always, conducting research and  gathering information can be challenging, especially in a society that is closed. Accessibility to  prisons or rape documents are hard to come by and challenging to obtain. Access to individuals  in prisons are challenging, therefore advocating for the individual and obtaining their story is  done through their family and covert style. 


Somaliland is located in the horn of Africa. Upon declaring reunification with Somalia on 26  June 1960, troubling times became an obstacle, thus paving the way for Somaliland to declare  restoration of their independence in 1991. In the midst of regaining independence, Somaliland  

ratified their constitution, creating a bicameral legislative organ, a judiciary and executive  branches of presidential system. Somaliland continues to seek recognition and legitimacy ever  since their new found independence in 2001. While in its infantile system, Somaliland aspires to  create a country where democracy is at the core of society. 

The Conditions of Jail Stations 

Perhaps the most troubling of issues in Somaliland when it comes to police stations and human  rights violations and abuses. Particularly glaring is the fact that most detainees are held in police  stations that are meant to hold people for 48 hours and not for prolonged sentences, however  Somaliland Police do not adhere to the laws in the constitution or international human rights  laws, depriving one of his or her liberty1, as stipulated by article 9(1) of the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, article 6 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’  Rights2guarantee a person’s right to “liberty” and “security”, which are ignored in the state of  Somaliland, as everyone is presumed guilty. Bail as a concept does not exist in Somaliland as  well, further reason for the prolonged detention of detainees. Overcrowding of detainees is partly  due to the lack of funding from the government, as there is no state budget3for jails or prisons in  the current budget. 

As for the treatment of detainees, the lack of humane action is another troubling factor for  Somaliland democracy. Emphasis on humane action has been taken charge by civil society  organizations and human rights groups to do active training for police officers when it comes to  humane treatment of detainees, proper procedural rights and other aspects lacking in the  department, however and despite the many trainings given to the police force, there is still lack  for decorum and humane behavior from officers. Beyond imploring police officers and  Somaliland government to treat detainees in a humane manner, there has to be pragmatic change  in place, starting with the conditions and the treatment of detainees’ scale such as the Supreme  law of the land.  

In November 2021, Human Rights Center monitors from the regions of Somaliland visited jail  and stations around their community to report and document their conditions, except for access  

1Somaliland Constitution 



to jails and prisons in Burco with a significant barrier, as we were not able to have access4.  Overcrowding and overall condition, including first aid or health screening in police station is a  recurring issue observed. For the sake of information collected, this reporting will be done on  prisons and jail stations at the same time. It should be noted that accessibility and the little  observation granted to our sources were possible to do this report and should be kept in mind for  little information being disseminated currently in this report, discourse on prison numbers or  inmates is a complicated issue  


According to article 27 (8) of the Somaliland Constitution: “The purpose of “prisons is reform  and correction. The state is responsible for the rehabilitation and skills training of prisoners so  that they can return to society with reformed characters5.”, however the trend seen in jail stations  paves the way for detainees to be traumatically scarred. There is no reform nor rehabilitation to  change character because there are other undermining concerns related to the detainee, including  emotional and physical abuse while in detention. The responsibility of the state to provide  rehabilitation and reform is not in the policies of the state nor are there any current legislations  that addresses rehabilitation and reform of prisoners. It is rather dismissive of the state to declare  the reform and rehabilitation of detainees without a proper recognition and action to follow  through, especially on a greater The prisons in Hargeisa also experience the same problematic  issues as the other regions. However, the reporting from the Hargeisa sources exhibits that  internal fighting is experienced in the stations of Hargeisa jails and prisons, which ultimately  affects the detainees in the short- and long-term duration of their stay and life outside of their  cells. Accessibility, basic food and shelter conditions are also lacking in many prisons. The  stations do not have proper air ventilation thus making it difficult for detainees to be granted  rights that are universally accepted for detainees. Forgetting fundamental rights, the conditions in  which accused individuals are held in is severely concerning. While conducting site visit, staff  and sources were not able to have access to the prisons in the region. One concerning matter  

4 Challenges faced by monitor and access to the centers.  


were the 42 individuals transferred from Borama to Gebilay for wearing Somalia custom flag  outfits. They were not granted visitations, nor were they able to have access to lawyers or food  unless it was sent by family members. Problems such as sanitary conditions, sleeping areas, or  clean latrines are problems faced by prisons across the board in all the region. What little access  we were granted, it was not hard to see the dire conditions of the prisons or jail stations. LasAnood has four police stations and one detention facility. The four police station are Wadna  police station, Central police station, East police station and Farahksule police station. Central  Police station is one of the biggest station facilities in the Sool region, where most detainees are  accused of criminal activity, including those that have not been charged with a crime are  transferred to this center. According to our sources, the facilities are old, they have not been  renovated for quite some time, and overcrowded with urine and fecal specimen.  

Conditions of the Detainees 

Detainees in the Sool region jails and prisons are cramped into small cells, with no air condition  or heating provided as the seasons changed. The detainees are often forgotten in stations, due to  lack of procedural rights. They are often ignored when dealing with illness and the health  sanitation of the stations do not allow for ideal conditions. There are no medical services  obtained or provided by the stations for detainees while they are in these correctional facilities,  leading to many serious issues or death in the case for some. They aren’t allowed to be outside as  some have reported back, nor do any of the stations and prisons provide food and good  accommodations for the detainees. Food is usually sent from their families from outside or  delivered from a restaurant on behalf of their families. Families are also not provided adequately  with information about their detained relative in these cases, nor are they given ample time to  solve the issue of medical attention, thereby leading to severe consequences, sometimes the  untimely death of the detainee. Desperate conditions await the detainees in these stations, as  evidenced by the extreme actions taken by prisoners in Berbera when they could not handle the 

extreme heat as they were not provided with air conditioner or fans6. As such, it is noted that  humane treatment of detainees is seldom granted to them.  

Recognizing that inhumane treatment is a problem with the Somaliland Police force, attention to  training and capacity building for police force has fallen on the hands of civil society  organizations. With that in mind, the issue still continues to be a problem for the police force,  whether that is lack of punishment or implementation on the part of the police force is yet to be a  question worth seeking answers. The living conditions of the jail and prisons stations in the  different regions all echo the same dilemma. Poor sanitation, poor health screening issues, lack  of humane treatment of detainees and lack of proper infrastructure, and lack of reading materials  apart from the Qur’an, violating declarations from international laws. Another cruel and unusual  punishment experienced by detainees is arrests based on compensation fee. There are detainees  that are held in police stations who have not committed a major crime but because there is  administration fee that they cannot pay, they are held indefinitely until that administrative fee is  paid. This concept of holding a detainee in prison or jail stations is against international human  rights law, in particular article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.7  What is even more troubling with the police and court system in Somaliland is the transferring of  crime from the accused to family members. Due to lack of procedural rights and due diligence on  the part of the investigative team, should the police not find the individual accused of the crime,  they will arrest a family member in their place, mostly these individuals are women, whether it is  a mother, grandmother, or wife, reflecting poorly on the implementation of the constitution of  Somaliland as article 26 (2) prohibits that action. 

6 Reporting monitor 2016 


Retrieved December 15 2021

Arbitrary Detention  

Detention and harassment of opposition politicians  

Somaliland went to the poll stations on May 31, 2021 to elect local and parliamentary  candidates. Prior to election and during the election campaigns, Somaliland government has taken election-related actions against opposition candidates. Human Rights Centre recorded the  detention of seven opposition politicians who were declared willing to compete in the elections. Additionally, three more opposition candidates are wanted by the Police at the time according to  a statement issued by the Police and other sources. The arrest of the opposition politicians  contradicts the Constitution of Somaliland and the Elections Act, which both provide politicians  with the right to participate in politics without fear of reprisal and to join the party of their  choosing. Article 22(1) of Somaliland constitutions says8, “Every citizen shall have the right to  participate in the political, economic social and cultural affairs.”  

The Elections Act stipulates that a candidate has immunity from arrest unless they are caught in  the act of committing a crime. In all the cases investigated by Human Rights Centre, the arrests  were carried out in contrary to the Elections Law. The government has not officially charged any  of the arrested candidates and politicians.  

The National Electoral Commission issued a statement on 26 April 2021 informing government authorities that candidates have immunity and shall not be arrested unless caught in the act of  committing a crime. The statement further provided that it is prohibited to arrest a candidate during  the election period. The National Human Rights Commission also supported the electoral body’s  decision and called on the immediate release of detained candidates. In a press release, the Police  defended the detention of the candidates and said they are investigating other candidates for the  following counts9

  • False certification by a person performing a service of public necessity (art. 371 of the  Penal Code); 
  • False certification of a public document by a private individual (art. 373 of the Penal Code); 

8Somaliland Constitution  

9 Ganzglas, Martin R. The Penal Code of the Somali Democratic Republic, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press 


  • Falsification of private deeds (art. 375 of the Penal Code). 

The press release has not detailed the facts concerning the articles allegedly violated. Additionally,  the Police have not stated which candidate is accused of which count. According to court records,  no candidate or detained opposition politicians has been charged by the Office of the Attorney General. 

On August, 28 2021 the UCID Deputy Secretary of Information in Awdal region Saleeban Awale  Good was detained for 28 days, he was arrested on the premise of criticizing the job performance  of the Governor of Awdal region, following his critique in the media. He has a right to express his  concerns and challenge any official in their job capacity. His arrest challenges and contradicts  article 25(1) and article 32(1). Article 25(1) states that “No one shall be deprived of his liberty  except in accordance with the law.” Article 32(1) states “Every citizen shall have the right to  express her or his opinion in writing, orally.” or any other form of media. HRC is also concerned  that this case is another issue of abuse of power by an elected official on a citizen. 

On September, 16 2021 the Deputy Governor of Maroodijex, Wali Abdi Jama, from the Wadani  Party was arrested after he criticized the President, Muse Bihi Abdi, through a media conference. Wali was sentenced up to 2 years and half in prison on November, 23 2021.  

On October, 5 2021 the chairperson of Berbera city council of UCID party Khalil Hussein Musa  was arrested for criticizing the governor and mayor of Berbera City on his personal Facebook account. He is currently still held in detention and awaiting trial in December 2021.  

Mohamoud Mohammed Haji Ibrahim was arrested in Burco on 6/12/2021 for a Facebook post  criticizing the Minister of the Ministry of the Interior. He was held for 10 days prior to being  sentenced for one year in prison. In other violations of freedom of expression, Idiris Said  Mohammed, also known as Sayidka Barakaysan was arrested for the mock portrayal of the  president, violating his constitutional right to express his opinion in any medium. He is a Youtuber  and comedian. He was arrested on 2/12/2021, currently held in detention without trial 10.  

Arbitrary arrests have steadily been increasing in Somaliland in free speech and freedom of  expression and Human Rights Center is concerned that this rapid increase is deteriorating the  

10 His case is still pending without trial at the time of this publication date 23/12/2021


strength of democracy in the country, thereby weakening the processes in which the country stands  on. 

The list of arrested and detained opposition politicians 

Name  Title  The date of  arrest Release/detenti on 
Raage Ahmed Yusuf  Finance Secretary, UCID party  8/2/2021  6/3/2021
Mohamoud Ahmed Jama  Dhadoon Member, UCID party  8/2/2021  6/3/2021
Shu’ay Mohamed Muse  Agriculture Secretary, UCID  25/3/2021  8/4/2021
Ibraahim Abdi Hussein  Secretary of Religious Affairs, UCID  party. 9/04/ 2021  Released. 
Abdilaahi Hersi Hassan  Candidate for UCID party  22/04/2021  08/05/2021
Abdirahman Ahmed Ali  Candidate for UCID party  28/04/ 2021  08/05/2021
Qasim Adan Sulaiman  Candidate for Waddani party  24/04/2021  08/05/2021
Saleeban Awale Good  UCID Deputy Secretary of  Information in Awdal region 28/08/ 2021  25/09/ 2021
Wali Abdi Jama  Wadani Deputy Governor of  Maroodijex 16/09/2021  Sentenced to 2  years and 2 months  in prison
10  Khaliil Hussein Musa  Ucid chairperson of Berbera city  council 05/10/2021  Detention


Freedom of expression and press freedom  

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal  Declaration of Human Rights11. This right extends to freedom of opinion and expression,  



“including freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart  information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” While freedom of expression  is declared in the Universal declaration of human rights, freedom of expression is illustrated in  Article 32, granting and establishing right to assemble, demonstrate, and press. However, there is  always an obstruction to this right. From monitoring and documenting done by HRC, the issue of  freedom of expression deteriorated this year and there were more individuals that have been  detained for expressing their opinion or pointing and commenting the job performance of  government officials. Freedom of expression is significant right for the citizens and restricting this  right will have huge consequences on obtaining accountability and transparency. Silencing the  citizens through detention and not giving them the chance to express their opinion on the matters  that affects them is another form of oppression. Most of the cases that are related to freedom of  expression take their grounds from being a national security matter or defamation. The detained  individuals faced illegal detentions with almost every arrested individual was taken to custody  without warrant and not being brought into court within the assigned time of 48 hours.  

In the period covered by this report Human Rights Centre has recorded 114 people arrested for  cases related to freedom of expression, including journalists. 

On April 2021, two women were detained for allegedly supporting Somaliland’s reunification with  Somalia. Sabah Abdi Ibrahim was detained after she dressed in Somalia’s flag. She was released  without charges after spending six days in a police station in Hargeisa.  

On 23 April 2021 Degan Omar Dahir Miiraash was arrested in Borama for allegedly dressing in  clothes with the Somalia flag. She was released on the same day without charges. Dagan has  already served six months of imprisonment for similar allegations.  

The detention of individuals for purportedly showing support for “unity” is not new. Human Rights  Centre has, in earlier reports, documented several activists, singers and other people who were  detained and prosecuted in Somaliland for allegations of being against the independence of  Somaliland.


On June 26, 2021, 42 individuals arrested in Borama for wearing Somalia Custom flag outfits,  reports from regional monitors stated that some of the individuals were students studying in  Borama that came from south Somalia, while others have been innocent bystanders. After their  arrests, the groups were divided and separated into different prisons in different location such as  Gebiley and Mandhera. On a visit to the accused individuals, HRC found that they were situated  in the wrong jail, as they sent to maximum security prison, refused visitations from their family  and a phone call to alert their families. The accused persons were released shortly after a  statement declared by HRC condemning lack of procedural rule of law and due diligence in the  offence. 

On June 26, 2021, Sabah Abdi Ibrahim was arrested again for wearing Somalia flag outfits and  broadcasting the evidence of her actions on social media. Sabah has a right to her opinion and the  right to express through whatever medium she feels spreads her message; however, Somaliland  considers topics regarding Somalia as a security issue that impacts the sovereignty, security,  morality, and ethics of the supreme law of the land. On June 26, 2021, 15 individuals were also  arrested in Laascaanood for the same issue and they were also released soon after. In the same  day, Barkhad Mohammed Baashe a social media content creator was arrested for spreading  pictures of the individuals wearing the Somalia flag outfits in Laascaanood, as well as  interviewing the parents of the individuals on social media. 

On July 2 2021, Abdikareem Abdi Nuur was arrested as commentator on political issues in the  region as well as being a local leader from LasAnood. He was arrested for criticizing the  government and released shortly after. HRC considers the arbitrary detainment as violation  against civil liberties and the law of the constitution. 

On July 3, 2021, Ismail Abdulllahi Hussein and Abdiqani Sheik Mohamed Sheik Omar were  arrested after voicing their opinion and criticizing the minister of the Somaliland Ministry of  Agriculture Development for what they consider stealing land plots and aggravated forced  evictions against the citizens of Somaliland. Their critique came after the brother of Ismail  Abdullahi Hussein wrote a Facebook post, describing the land plot issues against the minister of  the ministry of Agricultural Development and thus was beaten by the police. HRC considers this  a flagrant abuse of power and obstruction of their civil liberties in expressing their opinion in  written form as granted by the constitution of Somaliland. 


On 05 October 2021, Sacad Abdirarhman Mohamoud, a comedian was arrested for traveling to  Mogadishu which is against article 23 of the Somaliland Constitution. Article 23 stipulates «  Every person who is a citizen or lawfully resident in the country shall be free to move to or settle  at any place of his choice, or leave or return to the country at will. ». Sacad was released on 21  October 2021.  

On 06 October 2021, Ahmed Abdirahman Yusuf, was arrested in Berbera for a Facebook post on  his personal page, criticizing the coordinator of the health department in Berbera. He was  charged on multiple articles of the Somali Penal Code, such as article 268, 328, and 45112.  Article 268 of the Somali Penal Code declares “Insult to a Public Officer”, article 328  “Publication or Circulation of False, Exaggerated, or Tendentious News Capable of Disturbing  Public Order” and article 451 declares “Insult”. These charges contradict the laws of the  constitution of Somaliland and International human rights law. The contradiction of article 32 (1)  which stipulates « Every citizen shall have the freedom, in accordance with the law, to express  his opinions orally, visually, artistically, or in writing or in any other way. Much of the charges  against Ahmed Abdirahman Yusuf are contrived, outdated and cannot be penalized in current  times due to the outdated version of the Somali Penal Code being utilized.  

On 24 October 2021, four traditional elders, Yusuf Ahmed Handule, Mustafa Aden Gale,  Farahdeer Garad Ismail Ducaale, and Mohammed Awad Baruud were arrested for supporting a  parliamentarian candidate in Somalia. They were immediately transferred to Hargeisa and  Mandheera Jails without been charged for offence and they were released after 12 days. Saeed  Mohamoud Gahayr, a social activist and poet, was arrested on the orders of the Minister of the  Ministry of Education, Ahmed Mohammed Diriye. Saeed was released after spending 16 days in  Prison and with conditions to his release, including a probation order.  

Arbitrary arrest is against the constitution of Somaliland, in particular article 32 (1) which grants  freedom of speech to citizens. Furthermore, article 25 (2) stipulates that “no one’s right to  freedom shall not be taken without cause. While the constitution clearly states laws, the problem  

12 Ganzglas, Martin R. The Penal Code of the Somali Democratic Republic, New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press  pp.301, 368, 507. 


facing Somaliland is misutilization of the constitution, misuse of the judicial and executive  powers and a complete disregard for the democratic processes in Somaliland.  

Detention of journalists  

Detention and prosecution cases of journalists have been part of annual reports of Human Rights  Centre since its establishment. The incidents of detentions, media house suspensions and  intimidation from government is real concern when it comes to freedom of media even though  the constitution of Somaliland guarantees the freedom of media as stated in article 32, coupled  with 2004 press law which also guarantees the protection of journalists. However, the penal code  of Somalia which was ratified back in the 1960 is still used for media cases, which in contrast  contradicts the Somaliland Constitution and criminalizes media issues such as defamation, most  of which cannot be applicable to the journalists in the current time13. Misinterpretation and  plurality of the legal system utilized in Somaliland leads to confusion in the ways that people are  arrested and charged, in effect the Penal Code. In this reporting period Human Rights Centre  documented the detention of 13 journalists for work-related activities.  

On 5 January 2021, Abdihakim Mohamed Ali, a freelancer journalist, was arrested in Erigavo for  a Facebook post. He was released on 18 January 2021 without charges.  

On 16 January 2021, Hussein Ateeye Gaafane, a reporter of Universal TV, Abdilaahi Dahir Ways  of Saab TV, Ahmed Dirie Iltire, a reporter of SBC TV and Shuaib Mohamed Kahin of Bulsho TV,  was arrested in Borama on the order of the mayor of Borama. They were released on 20 January  2021 without any charge. 

On 16 March 2021, Mustafe Abdirahman Mohamed Araale, a reporter from Eryal TV was arrested  in Borama after he videotaped a garbage dumpster in the middle of the city, his arrest was ordered  by governor of Borama and he was released on the same date.  

On 13 April 2021, Adan Abdi Idle, a freelancer journalist was arrested for Facebook posts for  being critical about the Central Bank governor on corruption issues. Hargeisa Regional Court  

13 Reasoning being the utilization of the Somali Penal Code, which does not have a clear distinction of the media  currently used in present times. 


remanded him into prison for further investigations. No official charges were currently filed with  the court. He was released on 29 April 2021 without charges.  

On 23 April 2021, Abdiqadir Mohamed Abdilahi (Aka Ishqi), a reporter of MM TV was arrested  in Borama by the Somaliland police after he interviewed Hassan Dehehe, a sheikh based in Borama  who allegedly supported the President of Somalia. 

On 13 September 2021, Mohammed Abdi Omar a reporter from SBCTV was arrested in Gebilay after he filmed a documentary of kalabaydh hospital in Gebilay. 

On 02 October 2021, Mawliid Ismacil Haredigeed a reporter of Halbeeg media was arrested in  Lascaanood after he recorded a major humanitarian crisis against Somaliland government for the  force eviction taken place in LasAnood, he was released at the same date.  

On 24 October 2021, Abdifatah Mohammed Abdi a reporter who works with Holhol media was  arrested in LasAnood for videotaping four traditional elders who were supporting a  parliamentarian candidate in Somalia. He was released on 06 November 2021 without charge. 


Source: Primary Data 

The highest rate of detention starting is Borama (Awdal) consisting of 54% of arrests.  LasAnood(Sool) at a rate of 15%, followed by Erigavo(Sanaag), Berbera(Sahil) arrests at the rate  of 8 % followed by Gebilay(Maroodi-jeex) and Hargeisa(Maroodi-jeex) arrests at 7% of  journalists detained.  

Police Brutality 

Somaliland is a victim of its infantile system, accountability and transparency within and around  institutions in Somaliland leads to chaos, creating a population that is morally desensitized to its  problems and participation apart from voting in elections, lack of security in these institutions  which are meant to protect the population, decreasing the strength of the democratic identity which  Somaliland is striving towards. Various government institutions have limited capacity including  the police despite the many activities and task forces to train officers; therefore, mechanisms of  oversight do not exist though the Police law of 2017 created civilian police and established


oversight body and banned use of live bullets against unarmed civilians, however the act was not  implemented and an amendment was made within a year. The amendment removed all  accountability provisions from the law making it an irrelevant document that does not provide a  protection for civilians. Most of the cases involving police brutality acts have been a lack of  oversight and accountability14.  

Human Rights Center documented several cases of police brutality; Most of the cases have been  cases where due diligence, due process and a respect of law and order is ignored, as well as  appropriate use of force and correct enforcement of statutes. Actions taken by the police included  indiscriminately targeting citizens, armed shooting and illegal processing procedures.  

Of the cases reported, investigated and documented by the Human Rights Center, each case  showed a lack of decorum, responsibility and accountability on behalf of the police force. The  most egregious case of excessive force and police brutality involves a 19-year-old Abdiassis  Abdillahi, resulting in gunshots aimed at both of his legs seven times by the officer involved.  The facts of his case will be outlined in the graph below.  

Case Study #1 

Hoodo Mohamed Nuur Garays, a journalist of Horyal TV, and her mother, Suleekha Abdilahi Abdi,  were arrested and tortured on 20 February 2021, by the police. They spent 23 hours in Iftin police  station seven people attacked them including Police women. They released them a next day by  negotiations.


14 ce.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y


Case Study #2 

Abdiassis Abdillahi: 19 years of age, Hargeisa. 

He was arrested on April 19th 2021. According to reports from sources, his case seems like a personal  vendetta with the victim’s family against the officer involved and the station, as well as witness  intimidation and threatening incessant phone calls against him. While there’s a lack of further information  regarding the personal vendetta, the police officer was released from detention after the intervention of his  commander without a regard to the victim, as the victim is still hospitalized and hospital bills are  increasing and affecting the wellbeing of the victim and his family. Article 26(1)(2) clearly state that  punishment shall be confined to the accused and that crimes and punishments should not be administered  that are contrary to law. With the intervention of the police commander, the proper channels in which to  convict the accused and help the victim have been erased, damaging the proper way to administer justice  and grant the due process both victim and accused are supposed to be afforded. 


Case Study #3 

Abdirahman Abdillahii (Abdirahman Fantastic): police brutality on May 10th, 2021 

A Somaliland journalist brutality beat by men considered to be the Somaliland intelligence agents. He was  beaten viciously by people considered to be intelligence agents, after he heard the cries of a neighbor of  his. He was trying to help him since he heard her yelling, however he was beaten for investigating the noise  and rising the alarm for trying to help. His right eye was damaged as a result of his interaction with the  police. 



Case Study #4 

Istahil- 28 years of age 

Caught in the possession of illegal drugs. Istahil’s story is a precarious case as it stands, she is not  a citizen of Somaliland.  

Her treatment at the local jail station is horrendous, as it is alleged that her and her cell mate do  not get the same treatment as everyone else. They do not have any of the privileges the others  receive, which can be considered as clan discrimination. She has multiple injuries, but the biggest  concerning one is a big gash wound on her leg near the calf muscle. She has not received any  medical attention and has been stuck inside her jail cell since her incarceration. While she is not a  citizen of Somaliland, her universal human rights have not been protected, in particularly  contrary to Articles 24, 25, 26 and 27. 


Case Study #5 

Anisa Abdirahman Jamac: 13-year-old, from Laascaanood.  

Anisa lives in the neighborhood of a boarding school, and is the victim of collateral damage, hit  by a stray bullet from an officer that was trying to silence students that were protesting against  the administration of their boarding school. The police officer in the involvement of her death  was detained. 


Arresting people without court warrant is another issue that the police normalize in the scale that  a civilian can simply be ordered by a police officer to detain and they will do it even if you are not  committing any crime at that present time. Somaliland constitution states “no person may be  denied his/her freedom in a manner that is not accordance with the law”. Despite the Somaliland  constitution which protects and guarantees fair trial procedures, this right is not respected. The  cases of people being arrested without due process of law, prolonged pretrial detentions, and  ignoring fair trial procedures have become the norm in the country. 


Gender and sexual Violence 

Somaliland constitution stipulates in article 36 that “the government shall encourage and  legislate for women to be free of practices which are contrary and injurious to their person and  dignity”, however that is mostly obstructed both by representatives and those in decision making  positions. Mostly, the lack of legislation is linked to the mixed interpretations of the laws and the  plural law system applied in the country15. In 2018, the Somaliland president signed the Rape  and Sexual Offences Act, which also faced backlash from the religious leaders including the  minister of religious affairs at that time because of its language and interpretations. The bill was  agreed to be amended for better language, that fulfilled sharia interpretation and the Somaliland constitution, but the progress of the amendment has been stalled for unknown reasons. It has  been three years and the Act is still sitting in the Guurti house. Although, the importance of this  law is known by every citizen in this country and the need of it is growing every single day. Criminalization of rape can lead to prevention, of which organizations have requested.  

We have witnessed countless meetings to discuss prevention measures, post-care and trauma  efforts, dialogues between international NGO’s and government institutions and civil society  organizations. However, the issue at hand is not that Somaliland is incapable of taking care of a  rape victim, but rather that they’ve let down the victim because Somaliland leaders, politicians,  religious leaders, traditional elders, and women, in general, have decided to stay quiet against the  victims with their inaction and lack of proper mechanism in the rules affecting SGBV. There are  no policies in hand or even legislation to criminalize issues of SGBV, conflating the issue of  SGBV even further by allowing perpetrators to marry the girl or women violated and raped.  

The lack of women in decision making roles is making easier to subjugate women in Somaliland as the decision-making roles does not involve any woman or any advocates for gender issues in  the parliament. Somaliland government held a parliamentary election in May 2021 and  unfortunately none of the elected candidates were women, thus making it difficult when there is  no single woman in parliament that can raise issues and advocate for the issues related women  

15 eng.pdf


including SGBV. On 03 November 2021, the Somaliland police forces published a report that  includes the number of rape cases that have been recorded in this year and they stated that 232 16 rape cases have been recorded and that those are the reported cases, however the cruel reality is  rape is one of the least underreported crimes in the country for a plethora of reasons, one of them  being there is no mechanism in place. There is no database for these reports nor does Somaliland have a forensics department that can handle these cases.  

Case Study #

Hinda Cumar Abdi: 30-year-old woman located in Hargeisa. The rape and death of Hinda Abdi took  place on July 9th 2021. 

Hinda Cumar Abdi was visiting her family in the Mohammed Mooge area when she got on a bus to  take her back to her place of residence. The rape and consequent murder happened approximately a  few kilometers away from the place of her family. Eyewitness heard a scream and a body being  thrown on the street, no one could identity her as she was horribly disfigured due to struggle and the  subsequent rape and murder afterwards. Her families were informed by doctors overseeing her case  that the trauma suffered by Hinda was related to the Rape and blunt trauma by the bus drivers. Her  case is still currently being investigated in ongoing trial. 



Retrieved December 12,2021


Internally Displaced People 

Human Rights Center traveled to Burco on September 16-17 2021 and Istanbul IDP in Hargeisa on September 22-23 2021. The first IDP the staff and monitors visited was named May 18th,  specifically the data gathered and formulated came from the Kuurlibaah and Alaa Amin section  of May 18th camp. The population according to the families is around 2800-3000, though there is  no viable way for us to verify that information, as they were all displaced from the area of Burco  University. It should be noted that those that gave us access to interview them were  predominately women, thus all the quotes in this report for this section will be from the women  residing in May 18 camp from Burco, as well as omitting their names for privacy and security.  Of the interviewees questioned, water, sanitation issues as well as the distance from the camp to  the central burco is a problem. The distanced traveled from the city center of Burco or anything  of relevance to daily activity is hindered by the lack of access, whether that is transportation  services and money. According to the interviewees, taxi cost back and forth to the camp costs  them 10k Somaliland shilling, which presents a problem as they do not have the money or access  to get money. Their livelihood has been stagnated due to the fact that they live so far out from  the rest of the population, that even paying rent seems impossible at most times, in doing so  leading to a lack of accessibility to other necessities such as a pharmacy, clinics or supermarkets.  May 18 camp lists many humanitarian issues, of all the basic necessities granted to all humans.  Of the two camps in May 18, Kuurlibaah and Alaa Amiin, the most grievous of issues for the  residents were clean water and restrooms. Interviewees reported that six families share one area  of the toilet. The toilets aren’t sustainable in the way they were constructed, as they are open  toilets. Another concerning factor mentioned by the residents, they don’t use the toilet after 6 pm  for security purposes, including animal warfare. Other difficulties counted by the residents  regards land ownership. Because they don’t own the land they currently reside in, they are not  allowed to dig or construct a proper bathroom17, further adding to the challenges and difficulties  they face.  

17 Interview, September 16 2021 May 18 IDP camp Burco resident 


Without the drought crisis and food insecurity plaguing residents in IDPs, the issue of water is a  consistent humanitarian crisis. Droughts and water crisis is a continuous challenging  humanitarian issue that the Somaliland National Drought Committee18 was reactivated by the  Government in early March 2021 and reported that dry rains have severely deteriorated the  problems in Somaliland, in addition to the already troubling environmental and conflict issues in  the country, and the frequency in which these disasters are happening. When asked how the  residents have access to water, the overwhelming response was from water tank or jar costing  1.000 Somaliland Shilling. In respect to the money, residents mentioned that some cannot afford  to buy it, and when they can buy the water from the tanks or jars, the water is salty. While the  water being salty is perfect for cooking because salt will not be needed, as mentioned by the  residents, drinking salty water is far from ideal. Somaliland’s groundwater source is boreholes,  shallow wells and springs for all water usages, thus the salinity of the water acquired is higher  than needed for drinking water, therefore households across Somaliland will live around areas of  where they can access the water, or relatively close where they can travel miles to get water.  Moreover, the complexity of humanitarian issues in the country paves the way for more  insecurity in the region. Consuming salt water is harmful for a myriad of reasons, most  importantly dehydration and failure of organs, which violates the fundamental right provided by  the Somaliland government over the rights of their citizens.  

According to the residents interviewed in May 18 IDP camp from Burco, the location of the  camp from central creates more problems for them:  

“Traveling back and forth from the camp to the central areas where the shops are is 1.000  Somaliland shillings. Because everything is located away from us, it is hard to fend for  ourselves. Thankfully, some organizations have helped us to survive. What we want more, is that  we can be able to fend and survive on our own with the help of others. Because we depend on  each other in the camps rather than organizations. We can’t keep drinking salt water. IF we can  build our own water reserve, we could control it ourselves.” 

While HRC staff and monitors were documenting and collecting data, residents were quite vocal  about a lot of the issues and challenges facing them, however they noted one grievance that 

18 Retrieved December 16, 2021


demonstrates the lack of accountability and transparency with the organizations working in the  region. As HRC policy, when we do site visitations in IDP’s or wherever the individual is  detained, disclosure is the best policy in that HRC’s role in interviewing them is to advocate on  their behalf, as we do not provide services or help in allocating food, water or any other benefits.  The grievance held by the residents is that there is an awareness of individual coming to  interview them with the premise of helping them change their situation, noting that nothing  changes for them nor do they hear from the individuals again. Therefore, they question why and  how organizations can continue to visit them without any real change involved. With the  conflating and complex humanitarian crises in Somaliland, the most vulnerable groups in the  region are those in IDPS, as experienced by the worse hit camps such as Istanbul, located in  Hargeisa. Istanbul is located in Moalin Haruun District, east of Hargeisa. The resident of this  camp has been displaced due to security conflict and environmental disasters such as droughts  and famine. The conditions in the camp have been documented before. Reports of fire constantly  breaking out, injuring or killing residents. Crime rates increasing yet unreported or  underreported. These are all challenging issues that makes accurate documentation arduous. Of  the interviewees questioned, insecurity from different sectors makes it difficult for the residents  to have peace and security within their own dwelling, both as residents of an IDP and as humans,  despite the fact that Istanbul is privately owned by a citizen. Due to the location of the camp, residents are finding that being self-sufficient is blocked due to income source. In order to pay  for their rent and other household items, residents have remarked that they have to travel to the  city19, or other acts of demeaning behavior like beg on the streets to secure funds to pay for the  water or food for their family. Fundamentals are missing from the camps, such as the right to  food, education, safety and security and housing. Moreover, this camp creates situation where  vulnerable people become even more vulnerable due to their circumstances. Those living with  mental health issues or disabilities are even more disadvantaged than normal. Families do not  have the abilities to provide adequate accessibility such as a wheelchair, ramps or a motor  vehicle that can be used in the terrains of Somaliland for their disabled one or those suffering  from mental health issues. They are usually locked in chains, highlighting the need for a more  

19 Interview, 22 September 2021 Istanbul IDP Camp resident 


dignified way to treat individuals with disability or mental health issues in Somaliland that are  currently not addressed. 

Forced Evictions 

Another factor displacing people in Somaliland is forced evictions. Somaliland unilaterally  forcibly evicted people in LasAnood and Erigavo for what the government considered “security  issues20”, however the circumstances in which they were evicted do not support that claim from  the information gathered by our sources and witnesses. On October 2, 2021, HRC received  report of 1000 individuals of the Rahanweyn residing in LasAnood were told to leave and go  back to south Somalia, without notice. This was a lapse in humanitarian judgement on the part of  the government. The evictees were long-term residents of LasAnood with business and a life  spanning a long family history in the area. Reports received by the Center recorded a massive  campaign of evicting elderly and pregnant women, thus leading to an outcry from |Somaliland  citizens and the international community. Forced eviction campaign from LasAnood and Erigavo spanned throughout the month of October. However, due to the outcry from the international  community, the government allowed Rahanweyn residents of Erigavo a month’s notice to leave  Somaliland. According to our sources, between 1000-3000 families were evicted, although there  are more than what is reported, though there’s no record or complete investigation into how  many individuals were forcibly evicted from these two regions.  

20 Press release from the Somaliland Government on 


About the HRC 

The Human Rights Centre (HRC) is a non-profit organization established in January 2013 with  the aim of contributing to the protection and promotion of human rights in Somaliland. HRC was  founded by lawyers who are inspired by the Bill of Rights in the Somaliland Constitution and the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is registered with the Somaliland government as a  non-profit-making and non-governmental organization. HRC was formed to cover the need for  documentation and advocacy on human rights to help maintain the gains made by Somaliland’s  nascent democracy. The central policy of the Human Rights Centre is creating and fostering a  culture of voluntary human rights activism where committed human rights defenders with  passion contribute to the protection, promotion, and realization of human rights. 

Our Mission 

For Somaliland, a place where human rights are protected, promoted, respected, and fulfill. 

Our Vision 

Human Rights Centre exists to defend and protect the rights of human beings. 

Our Values 

We uphold the values of honesty, justice, and integrity for all. We aim to work with transparency  and accountability, commitment, and discipline. We encourage creative participation  understanding the need for sustainability and respect for all. We will continue to strive for  impartially and independence while placing great value on confidentiality. We also appreciate  the importance of volunteering which forms the foundations of our organization. 

Areas of Operation 

HRC helps and works for the people of Somaliland. It focuses on vulnerable people, women, the  poor, minority clans, and victims of human rights abuses. HRC directs most of its attention to  abuses committed by the state. The areas HRC works on include, but are not limited to, police  brutality, freedom of media and expression, sexual and gender-based violence, illegal detentions,  the death penalty, and freedom of assembly.


Printed in the Republic of Somaliland Human Rights Center 2021 

Badda Cas, Jigjigayar 

Hargeisa Somaliland 


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