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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                      


Government security services, international troops, and various local militias have also been implicated in indiscriminate lethal violence and the use of excessive force against civilians. Authorities carry out executions ordered by military courts after flawed proceedings. Detainees are at risk of torture in custody, and perpetrators generally enjoy impunity.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Somalia

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Somalia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Somalia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 8 August 2021]


NISA agents routinely conducted mass security sweeps against al-Shabaab and terrorist cells, as well as against criminal groups. The organization held detainees for prolonged periods without following due process and mistreated suspects during interrogations.

There remained multiple credible reports of rape and sexual abuse by government agents, primarily in the security forces (see section 1.g.). For example, in April, SNA troops were implicated in four rapes of women and girls of various ages, with one as young as three years old, in Lower Shabelle region.

Al-Shabaab imposed harsh punishment on persons in areas under its control. AMISOM alleged that al-Shabaab tortured residents in el-Baraf for offenses ranging from failure to pay taxes to being a government agent (see sections 1.a. and 1.g.). In September al-Shabaab militants attacked local villagers in Galmudug State who had refused to contribute livestock and small arms, according to an international press report, leaving 30 residents dead after a pitched battle.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment at the hands of clan militias, some of which are government-affiliated, remained frequent. There remained a culture of impunity due to clan protection of perpetrators and weak government capacity to hold the guilty to account.


With the exception of newly built facilities, prison conditions in most areas of the country remained harsh. Poor sanitation and hygiene, inadequate food and water, and lack of medical care were the norm.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 13 May 2020]

IS THERE AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY? - The judicial system in Somalia is fractured, understaffed, and rife with corruption. Its authority is not widely respected, with state officials ignoring court rulings and citizens often turning to customary law or interpretations of Sharia as alternatives. In recent years, the office of the president has removed judges and members of the Judicial Service Commission in contravention of the provisional constitution. President Abdullahi has promised to reform the judiciary, but the chief justice’s September 2017 suspension of 18 judges—in what was seen as part of the reform effort—may have also been unconstitutional.

DOES DUE PROCESS PREVAIL IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL MATTERS? - Safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention are not observed by the country’s police, intelligence, and military services, whose performance is also undermined by corruption. Clan politics and other external factors often play a role in the outcome of court cases. Military courts routinely try civilians, including for terrorism-related offenses, and do not respect basic international standards for due process.

IS THERE PROTECTION FROM THE ILLEGITIMATE USE OF PHYSICAL FORCE AND FREEDOM FROM WAR AND INSURGENCIES? - The ongoing civil conflict featured numerous terrorist attacks on government, international, and civilian targets during 2017. In October, a coordinated pair of truck bombings in Mogadishu killed more than 500 people, making it the deadliest such attack in the conflict to date.

Government security services, international troops, and various local militias have also been implicated in indiscriminate lethal violence and the use of excessive force against civilians. Authorities carry out executions ordered by military courts after flawed proceedings. Detainees are at risk of torture in custody, and perpetrators generally enjoy impunity.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ATTACKS ON MEDIA - Government harassment and intimidation of journalists in Mogadishu, particularly by NISA, and threats against media outlets increased. On February 11, NISA detained Mohamed Haji Bare from Radio Danan and Ibrahim Mohamed from Radio Haatuf, for three days, beating them severely and threatening them, reportedly for taking photos of a deputy governor previously injured in a car bomb.

SIMHA Condemns Radio Journalists arrest and torture

Somalicurrent, 18 Aug 2014

[accessed 15 September 2014]

[accessed 2 August 2017]

Somali independent Media House Association denounces with strongest terms possible the arrest and hence the extreme torture meted against Radio Shabelle director and Sky FM journalist.

Released Shabelle staff has confirmed to SIMHA that the chairman of Radio Shabelle and the director of Sky FM who were arrested last week by Somali Intelligence personnel were extremely tortured while in prison.

“They are under constant horrendous torture and they need urgent interventions,” said of the released journalist who will not disclose his name for security reasons.

Security Forces Open Torture Chembers in Mogadishu

Dalsan Radio, 6 June 2014

[accessed 8 June 2014]

[accessed 30 August 2016]

[scroll down to 06 Jun- Source: Radio Dalsan]

"They stopped my car. Then I told them that I am a businessman. One of them said they suspected me. Then they took me to a house where they tortured me". Gurey said.

A lady who resides in the next house came out and asked them who the victim was that night and then they replied "we are torturing one stubborn man from the Diaspora.

Amanda Lindhout tells of her captivity, torture in Somalia

The Canadian Press, 18 August 2013

[accessed 20 Aug 2013]

Amanda Lindhout was captured in Somalia in 2008 while working as a freelance journalist and held captive for more than a year.

After about a year of being starved, beaten and sexually brutalized, Amanda Lindhout decided it was time to kill herself.

The Alberta woman, taken hostage in Somalia in August 2008, says she reached her breaking point after spending three days trussed up like an animal, her hands and feet pulled so tightly behind her back that she could barely breathe.

When her captors did untie her, they told her it was only a reprieve. They promised to use the same torture technique on her again each day until they got their ransom money.

Ex-Somali colonel faces civil trial in Va. alleging torture

Associated Press AP, Alexandria VA, 13 May 2019

[accessed 14 May 2019]

Warfaa was jailed for several months and was regularly stripped naked and beaten, Klein said.

He was also hogtied in a stress position called the “Mig,” which Klein said “was so excruciatingly painful, so unbearable, it would cause Farhan to go unconscious.”

Ali would personally supervise many of these sessions, Klein said.

In a final interrogation in early 1988, Klein said resistance fighters attacked Ali’s brigade in the middle of questioning. At that point, Klein said, Ali shot Warfaa multiple times while he lay on the ground, shackled.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

DIRECT TARGETING OF CIVILIANS - Al-Shabab factions continued to torture and unlawfully kill people they accused of spying or not conforming to their own interpretation of Islamic law. They killed people in public, including by stoning, and carried out amputations and floggings. They also imposed restrictive behavioural codes on women and men.

Three men were reportedly shot and killed in public by al-Shabab members in Merka in July. They were accused of spying for the CIA and UK intelligence service MI6, and of being responsible for drone attacks.

A woman was abducted and beheaded in August near Baidoa. Days before, al-Shabab had reportedly threatened her to stop her selling tea to government forces in the area.

Extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment were reportedly carried out in Baidoa and Beletweyne by militias allied to the government, often in response to ongoing insecurity and attacks by al-Shabab.


For more articles:: Search Amnesty International’s website

[accessed 13 January 2019]

Scroll Down


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 12 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The unimplemented Transitional Federal Charter (TFC) prohibits torture, and the Puntland Charter prohibits torture "unless sentenced by Islamic Shari'a courts in accordance with Islamic law"; however, there were some reports of the use of torture by the Puntland and Somaliland administrations and warring militiamen against each other or against civilians. Observers believed that many incidents of torture were not reported. Prison guards beat inmates in prison.

Security forces, police, and militias also abused and beat persons during the year. During a January 26 to February 7 mission to Somaliland, the UNIE noted an increase in police brutality in Somaliland. Acts of violence, including several killings, continued against TFG supporters or members (see section 1.a.).

On February 2, 16-year-old Zamzam Ahmed Dualeh was unconditionally freed by authorities and released into the custody of the UNIE. In August 2004 in Hargeisa, Somaliland police arrested and detained Dualeh and Omar Jama Warsame, her taxi driver, on espionage charges; both allegedly were beaten in detention, and Dualeh claimed that six policemen tortured and raped her. In December 2004 Dualeh was tried as an adult without legal representation and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. The four attorneys retained by local human rights activists to represent Dualeh were detained and sentenced to four years' imprisonment after they asked the judge to withdraw from the case due to alleged bias; in December 2004 the attorneys were released on appeal after they paid a fine.

No action reportedly was taken against Somaliland or Puntland forces, warlord supporters, or members of militias responsible for torturing, beating, raping, or otherwise abusing persons in 2004 or 2003.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Somalia",, [accessed <date>]