SPECIAL REPORT: How Somalia’s dark, secret torture dungeons kill civilians

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Common torture methods in Somalia include beatings of detainees with rifle butts, rods and cables

by Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – A new report by the United Nations Somalia and Eritrea monitoring group alleged that Somalia became one of the worst places in the world with civilians are abused, unlawfully arrested and killed without a reason.

The investigations singled out Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur, the Minister of Security in the Kismayo-based Interim Jubbaland Administration whom they accused of being responsible for the targeting of civilians contrary to international law, as well as conduct constituting obstruction of humanitarian assistance.

“At the centre of these allegations is the assertion that Abdirashid wields control of both the instruments of the use of force, and humanitarian financial flows in Dolow town and the surrounding areas, including with the support of the IJA and elements of the Ethiopian military.” The report said.

The report also alleged that Abdirashid has participated in activities that undermine peace and security more broadly, including attempting to overrule legitimately appointed local authorities.

Jubbaland officials were not immediately available for comment regarding the allegations in the report.

In one case, the report said that allegations came to light on August 2015 with the killing of three men and one woman who had been held in detention at Dolow Police Station for various periods of time prior to their death: Abdirizak Farah Mire, Ahmed Mohamed Gurnow Adan Derow Abdille and Sanyar Hussein Mohamed.

“They four were tied up, shot, and their naked bodies dumped in a shallow grave. The sudden and brutal circumstances of the killings.” It said, saying that the said abuses were intended thus to consolidate his image as an untouchable ‘strong man’.

The report further noted that on 26 August 2016, just a few days before the killings, Abdirashid had lost nine of his men in a battle with Al-Shabaab at Tulobarwaqo village, including the-then commander of the Dolow Police Station, Abdi Howsar.

Enraged by the ‘cold-blood’ murders, the Benadir Regional Court, a magistrate court of Mogadishu issued a warrant for Abdirashid for these four killings, in addition to the unlawful killing of three others in 2013 and 2014, also in Gedo, however, but it ability to go to Dolow is limited and Abdirashid was instead promoted to the position of Minister of Security by the President President Ahmed Mohamed Islam (“Madobe”) who paid no attention to the concerns by Somali authorities.

Responding to the allegations, Mr. Abdirashid had only acknowledged the existence of three—had been executed as they were “all Al-Shabaab”.

“To date, Abdirashid has operated with complete impunity. The IJA is seemingly unable to hold Abdi Rashid accountable for his abuse of power. The impact and implications of these activities—in addition to Abdirashid’s broader use of force to enhance his position of power in Gedo—contributes to undermining peace and security in Somalia.502.” The report said.

Meanwhile, local activists accused Ethiopian military officials of shielding Mr. Abdirashid from prosecutions. Some of the victims promised that they will sue Ethiopia which they accused of assisting him to commit the said crimes.

According to Somali army officials, Ethiopian officials are reportedly providing arms and logistics to the minister.

“Ethiopian troops forgot the reason they were in Somalia and clearly refused for the Somali National Army to come and control its territory of Luq, Dolow and BuuloHawo. ENDF also did commit some atrocity in these areas.” said a senior Somali military official on condition of anonymity.

Among the Ethiopian military officials who are allegedly backing Mr. Abdirashid is Col. Asmelash Damows who is in charge of Dolow and Yurkud, two towns near Somali border. His troops are not part of the African Union force known as AMISOM in Somalia.

According to Somali officials, Mr. Damows had reportedly ordered the closure of middle and high schools in river town of Luq.

Asmelash Damows
Asmelash Damows

According to Somali officials, Mr. Abdirashid is also supported by and Captain Ali Mohamed Ibrahim, a senior official at Ethiopia’s Military Intelligence Department. Based in Dolow, Mr. Ibrahim is allegedly involved in plans aimed to undermine efforts by Somali government to implement law and order in areas close to the common border.

Capt. Ali Ibrahim
Capt. Ali Ibrahim

In recent years, hundreds of men and boys were rounded up by security forces or armed groups backed by the government, on suspicion of links to al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group in Somalia.

Many of them are languishing in jails with no trials. No charges have also been brought against them.

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