a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were numerous reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings (see also sections 1.g. and 2.b.). Military court prosecutors, with investigative support from police (Criminal Investigations Department), are responsible for investigating whether security force killings were justifiable and pursuing prosecutions, but impunity remained a significant issue (see section 1.c.). While reliable data was difficult to collect, reporting from the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) indicated that between November 5, 2020, and July 31, there were 441 killings of civilians in the country due to conflict. While al-Shabaab and clan militias were the primary perpetrators, extrajudicial killings of civilians by state security forces, and to a much lesser extent by African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and other international forces, occurred.
On April 14, security forces executed a National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) officer after a military court found him guilty of killing a civilian on April 8 in Beledweyne. On May 24, a military court in Gedo region sentenced two former Somali Police Force (SPF) officers to death after they were found guilty of killing a male and a female civilian on January 6. Due to capacity problems in the civilian court system, authorities often transferred criminal cases, sometimes even involving children, to the military court system, even when military courts did not appear to have jurisdiction. Human rights organizations questioned the military courts’ ability to enforce appropriate safeguards regarding due process, the right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence, and the implementation of sentences in a manner that met international standards. Federal and regional authorities sometimes executed those sentenced to death within days of the court’s verdict, particularly in cases where defendants directly confessed their membership in al-Shabaab before the courts or in televised videos. In other cases the courts offered defendants up to 30 days to appeal death penalty judgments.
In the self-declared breakaway Republic of Somaliland, government and media sources reported an increase in killings of government officials and others in Las Anood, a city within an area disputed between Somaliland and the Federal Member State (FMS) of Puntland. In one high-profile case, local lawmaker Abdirisak Ahmed Elmi was shot and killed near his home in the city in September, just three months after being elected to his position in Somaliland’s May 31 local council elections. Shortly after his killing, the Somaliland government appointed a committee to investigate the recurring and increasing killings in the area, but at year’s end the committee had yet to render its conclusions or bring those responsible to account.
Al-Shabaab continued to carry out indiscriminate attacks and, in many cases, deliberately targeted civilians (see sections 1.g. and 6). The group conducted attacks targeting Turkish construction workers near Afgoye, guests at a hotel in Mogadishu, civilian Ministry of Defense staff, and villagers in Lower Shabelle, among many others. According to UNSOM, al-Shabaab was responsible for approximately 60 percent of civilian casualties between November 5, 2020, and July 31. On March 5, the terrorist group used a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) to target a restaurant popular among government officials and security force members in Mogadishu’s Hamarjajab district, with the explosion nearly collapsing the building and killing at least 10 persons and injuring 30 others. On July 2, a person-borne IED detonated at a restaurant in Mogadishu’s Shibis district, reportedly killing 12 persons and injuring at least seven.
On August 21, AMISOM stated that seven persons killed on August 10 by AMISOM troops from the Ugandan People’s Defense Force conducting operations against al-Shabaab in Golweyn, Lower Shabelle region, were civilians. AMISOM convened a board of inquiry led by a senior officer and two other members from the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, a senior Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) official, and senior officers from AMISOM Military, Police, and Mission Headquarters to investigate the incident and take appropriate disciplinary actions as necessary. The board of inquiry found that the soldiers violated AMISOM rules of engagement in the incident, and on October 20, AMISOM took full responsibility for unlawful acts by its troops with respect to the killings. Ugandan authorities convened a court martial of their soldiers in Mogadishu on November 6, charging the soldiers with murder and the desecration of bodies. On November 11, the five accused soldiers were found guilty of seven counts of murder. Two were sentenced to death by hanging. The other three were sentenced to 39 years in prison on each count, to be served concurrently. They were granted 14 days to appeal their sentences.
According to a July 14 report to the UN Human Rights Council by the independent expert on human rights in Somalia, there was an intensification of fighting among clans and subclans regarding agricultural land ownership, pasture, and water resources, as well as revenge killings and struggles for political power, resulting in 199 casualties. Interclan clashes in Jubaland, Galmudug, and South West State resulted in civilian casualties and massive displacements. Reportedly, revenge clan killings and atrocities were so serious that military interventions and clan elder interventions were required to separate fighting parties and defuse tensions.
There were some cases of reportedly government-directed, politically motivated disappearances. Local media outlets and politicians reported on the disappearance of Ikran Tahlil Farah, NISA’s head of cyber security, on June 26 after being picked up by a car from her home in Mogadishu following a call from an unknown source. A former NISA official alleged that Farah may have been in possession of a list of Somali youth sent to Eritrea for military training under a clandestine program that drew increasing public scrutiny and outcry during the year. Under public pressure over its lack of investigation into Farah’s disappearance, NISA issued a statement on September 2 indicating that al-Shabaab elements killed her, a claim that the terrorist group immediately denied. Some parliamentarians reportedly implicated senior NISA officials in Farah’s disappearance. The agency’s resistance to investigating the case led to Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble’s removal of the agency’s director general, Fahad Yasin, on September 8. On November 21, military investigators announced that no evidence linked NISA to Farah’s disappearance, instead claiming that al-Shabaab abducted and murdered her. Media and other sources cast doubt on the findings, citing CCTV footage showing Farah getting into a NISA vehicle the night that she disappeared. Her mother denounced military investigators’ conclusions as a cover-up.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of Somaliland authorities.
Al-Shabaab continued to abduct persons, including humanitarian workers and AMISOM troops taken hostage during attacks (see section 1.g.).
As of September pirates based in the country held no hostages.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits torture and inhuman treatment, but there were credible reports that government authorities engaged in instances of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
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. In one example reported by Human Rights Watch, “Abdi,” age 16, related that NISA officials repeatedly beat him during an interrogation and left him bleeding for days.
There were multiple credible reports of rape and sexual abuse by government agents, primarily in the security forces (see section 1.g.). For example, on May 14, five members of a clan militia allegedly wearing SPF uniforms and working with Mogadishu’s Deynile district administration raped three women and attempted to rape two others. The SPF arrested three suspects in the incident, and on May 29, the Attorney General’s Office requested that the Banadir Regional Court examine them for biological evidence and DNA samples. As of December no results had been released.
Al-Shabaab imposed harsh punishment on persons in areas under its control. In August the group reportedly executed an 83-year-old man in Galmudug for blasphemy. In March and June, the group publicly executed persons, including civilians, accused of spying for AMISOM, the United States, and the Somali government. In some cases al-Shabaab forced community members to watch public executions.
AMISOM forces, which were previously implicated in rapes and other unspecified grave abuses of human rights while conducting military operations in the country, tracked and in some cases investigated reports of alleged abuses, including a civilian casualty event in August (see section 1.a.). The AMISOM Civilian Casualty Tracking, Analysis, and Response Cell carried out this mandated task.
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 was a culture of impunity due to clan protection of perpetrators and weak government capacity to hold the guilty to account. Research indicated that such practices remained common along the road from Mogadishu to Afgoye at the hands of Hawiye clan-affiliated militias, some with strong ties to the Somali National Army (SNA).
At midyear, renewed conflict occurred among al-Shabaab, the Galjeel clan, and the Shanta Alemod clan, as well as with the relatively weaker Mirifle subclans, around Wanlaweyn, Lower Shabelle. Galjeel militias particularly targeted trade truck convoys and reportedly engaged in rape, looting, burning of homes and property, illegal checkpoints, and land grabbing.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Except for 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.
Physical Conditions: Overcrowding in urban prisons – particularly following large security incidents involving arrests – sometimes occurred. Authorities occasionally held juveniles and adults together, due in part to the belief juveniles were safer when held with members of their own subclan. Prison authorities often did not separate pretrial detainees from convicted prisoners, particularly in the southern and central regions.
Authorities generally required the families of inmates to pay the cost of health services. Inmates without family or clan support had very limited access to such services. Disease outbreaks, such as tuberculosis and cholera, continued to occur, particularly in overcrowded prisons such as the Mogadishu Central Prison (MCP). Such outbreaks could be life threatening during the rainy season.
Information on death rates in prisons and pretrial detention centers was unavailable.
Al-Shabaab detained persons in areas under its control in the southern and central regions. Those detained were incarcerated under inhuman conditions for relatively minor offenses, such as smoking, having illicit content on cell phones, listening to music, watching or playing soccer, wearing a brassiere, or not wearing a hijab. Prison conditions in areas controlled by al-Shabaab and where traditional authorities controlled detention areas were often harsh and life threatening.
Administration: Most prisons did not have ombudsmen. Federal law does not specifically allow prisoners to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship. Somaliland law, however, allows prisoners to submit complaints to judicial authorities without censorship, and prisoners reportedly submitted such complaints.
A joint UN assessment mission in April confirmed that the Garowe Central Prison (GCP) has a system for prisoners to submit complaints through officers and the prison commander.
Prisoners in the MCP, GCP, and Hargeisa prison had adequate access to visitors and religious observance. Infrastructure limitations in other prisons throughout the country impeded such activities.
Independent Monitoring: Authorities continued to work with international humanitarian and monitoring groups amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to some gains in access as these groups provided medical supplies and protective equipment for prison and detention center staff. UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) staff maintained regular access to prisons where UNODC delivered training and infrastructure support. Authorities allowed UNICEF, UNODC, and UNSOM to conduct joint inspections of prisoners during the year.
Somaliland authorities permitted some prison monitoring by independent nongovernmental (NGO) observers during the year.
Geographic inaccessibility and insecurity impeded such monitoring in territory controlled by al-Shabaab or in remote areas where traditional authorities controlled detention areas.
Improvements: In February an internationally supported project at the MCP improved the perimeter wall; constructed additional guard towers; and refurbished internal doors, locks, and gates.
Five prison facilities in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Beledweyne, and Garowe implemented a new prisoner record management database during the year.
During the year UNODC supported coordination between the Ministry of Justice and the State University of Puntland to provide psychosocial support for young and female prisoners at GCP. Social workers were assigned to the facility to allow prisoners to report cases of abuse. UNODC also supported the Garowe prison authority to inspect isolation rooms to prevent suicide and improve family visitations. The prison also improved policies and systems to separate young prisoners from adults and pretrial detainees from convicted prisoners.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Although the provisional federal constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, government security forces, allied militias, and regional authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained persons (see section 1.g.). The law provides for the right of persons to challenge the lawfulness of their arrest or detention in court, but only politicians and some businesspersons could exercise this right effectively.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
The provisional federal constitution provides for arrested persons to be brought before judicial authorities within 48 hours. The law requires warrants based on sufficient evidence and issued by authorized officials for the apprehension of suspects. The law also provides that arrestees receive prompt notification of the charges against them and judicial determinations, prompt access to a lawyer and family members, and other legal protections. Adherence to these safeguards was rare. Transportation to court facilities while awaiting trial was limited, and information was limited and anecdotal on defendants’ ability to access legal counsel while incarcerated in pretrial status or serving sentences.
The federal government made arrests without warrants and arbitrarily detained individuals. The government sometimes kept high-profile prisoners associated with al-Shabaab in safe houses before officially charging them. The law provides for bail, although citizens were rarely aware of this right, authorities did not always respect this provision, and judicial personnel lacked adequate training in criminal procedures to administer bail provisions. In some cases security force members, judicial officers, politicians, and clan elders used their influence to have favored detainees released.
Arbitrary Arrest: Federal and regional authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained numerous persons, including persons accused of terrorism and either supporting or opposing al-Shabaab. Authorities frequently used allegations of al-Shabaab affiliation to justify arbitrary arrests (see section 1.g).
Government authorities frequently arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists. According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate (SJS), between January and April, security forces arrested at least 30 journalists on duty, forcibly detaining many others. Authorities conducted the arrests throughout the country, but the majority reportedly occurred in Mogadishu. When antigovernment protests erupted in the capital in February and April concerning the impasse related to federal elections (see section 3), FGS security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained journalists attempting to cover demonstrations. The SJS reported that Turkish-trained “Cheetah” special police forces forcibly detained numerous journalists on February 18-19, in some cases at gunpoint, who were attempting to cover antigovernment protests in Mogadishu. The police forces confiscated equipment and held reporters until demonstrators dispersed (in some cases prompted by police and other forces using live rounds), and then released them without charge. The SJS also reported that on April 25, special “Dufan” police units detained, beat, and shot at Radio Hubal journalist Bashir Ali Shire as he was reporting a violent antigovernment protest and a gunfight in Mogadishu’s Karan district. One armed officer reportedly snatched the journalist’s cell phone and started kicking and beating him with a gun before another officer arrived and shot at him once. Shire said that police detained and interrogated him regarding his journalism and clan identity before releasing him without charge.
Arbitrary arrests by FMS authorities, particularly in Puntland and Jubaland, were common. For example, in December 2020, Puntland Intelligence and Security Agency forces arrested the freelance journalist Kilwe Adan Farah as he covered protests over government mismanagement of the local currency. Farah was charged with five offenses, including “publication of false news” and “bringing the nation or the state into contempt,” and on March 3 was sentenced by a military court to three months in prison despite a lack of evidence. Under pressure from local and international media freedom NGOs, as well as the international community, Puntland President Said Deni granted Farah a special pardon, and the journalist was released on March 22 after 84 days in jail.
Somaliland’s government continued to use arbitrary detention and arrest to curb negative reporting by journalists, as well as demonstrations of political expression by citizens, particularly on the suppression of support for unification with Somalia and on the Sool and Sanaag regions, which are the subject of territorial disputes with Puntland. On April 14, Somaliland police arrested journalist Aden Abdi Eidle in Hargeisa after he publicly accused Somaliland Central Bank Governor Ali Ibrahim Baghdadi of corruption. Speaking to reporters prior to being taken into custody, Eidle claimed that Baghdadi instigated the issuance of the arrest warrant against him. According to its social media reporting, the independent media freedom NGO Somaliland Journalists Association helped secure Eidle’s release on April 28. On July 5, Somaliland authorities detained journalist Barkhad Mohamed Bashe in Las Anood for covering a demonstration by a local women’s group protesting the arrest of their sons for wearing outfits showing the FGS flag in recognition of independence day. According to the SJS, Somaliland authorities released Bashe without charge on July 6 on condition that he not report news critical of Somaliland.
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was common, although estimates were unavailable on the average length of pretrial detention, or the percentage of the prison population being held in pretrial detention. The large number of detainees, a shortage of judges and court administrators, and judicial inefficiency resulted in trial delays.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, but the government did not always respect judicial independence and impartiality. The civilian judicial system remained dysfunctional and unevenly developed, particularly outside of urban areas. Some local courts depended on the dominant local clan and associated factions for their authority. The judiciary in most areas relied on a combination of traditional and customary law, sharia, and formal law. The judiciary was subject to influence and corruption and was strongly influenced by clan-based politics. Authorities often did not respect court orders or were not able to enforce the orders. Without clear protocols and procedures in place for the transfer of military case to civilian courts, authorities prosecuted only a handful of serious criminal cases.
The lack of accountability enabled judges to abuse their power. Civilian judges also lacked the necessary security to perform their jobs without fear. Cases involving security personnel or individuals accused of terrorism-related crimes were heard by military courts.
In Somaliland functional courts existed, although there was a serious shortage of trained judges, as well as limited legal documentation upon which to build judicial precedent and prosecute widespread allegations of corruption. Somaliland’s hybrid judicial system incorporates sharia, customary law, and formal law, but they were not well integrated. There was widespread interference in the judicial process, and government officials regularly intervened to influence cases, particularly those involving journalists. International NGOs reported that local officials interfered in legal matters and invoked the public order law to detain and incarcerate persons without trial.
Traditional clan elders mediated conflicts throughout the country. Clans frequently applied traditional justice practices. Traditional judgments sometimes held entire clans or subclans responsible for alleged violations by individuals.
The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, but the lack of an independent functioning judiciary meant this right was often not enforced. According to the law, individuals have the right to a presumption of innocence. They also have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them in a language they understand, although the law is unclear on whether the right to translation applies through all appeals. Detainees have the right to be brought before a competent court within 48 hours of arrest, to communicate with an attorney of their choice (or have one provided at public expense if indigent), and to not be compelled to incriminate themselves. Authorities did not respect most rights relating to trial procedures. Clan politics and corruption often impeded access to a fair trial. The law does not address confronting witnesses, the right to appeal a court’s ruling, the provision of sufficient time and facilities to prepare a defense, or the right to present one’s own evidence and witnesses.
Military courts tried civilians, primarily but not always those accused of terrorism offenses. Defendants in military courts rarely had legal representation or the right to appeal. Authorities sometimes executed those sentenced to death within days of the court’s verdict (see section 1.a.). Some government officials continued to claim that a 2011 state of emergency decree gave military courts jurisdiction over crimes, including those committed by civilians, in areas from which al-Shabaab had retreated. There were no clear indications whether this decree remained in effect according to government policy, statements, or actions, although the initial decree was for a period of three months and never formally extended.
In Somaliland defendants generally enjoyed a presumption of innocence and the right to a public trial, to be present at trial, and to consult an attorney at all stages of criminal proceedings. The government did not always inform defendants promptly and in detail of the charges against them and did not always provide access to government-held evidence. The government did not provide defendants with dedicated facilities to prepare a defense but generally provided adequate time to prepare. The government provided defendants with free interpretation or paid for private interpretation if they declined government-offered interpretation from the moment charged through all appeals. Defendants could question witnesses, present witnesses and evidence in their defense, and appeal court verdicts.
Somaliland provided free legal representation for defendants who faced serious criminal charges and could not afford a private attorney. Defendants had the right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt. A functioning legal aid clinic existed.
There was no functioning formal judicial system in al-Shabaab-controlled areas. Al-Shabaab enforced a strict form of sharia that imposed steep penalties, including death, for certain offenses.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
Government and regional authorities arrested journalists, as well as other persons critical of authorities, including high-profile political detainees. Neither government nor NGO sources provided an estimate of the number of political prisoners. In these cases the government generally did not provide access to such persons by humanitarian organizations.
In 2018 South West State presidential election candidate and prominent defector from al-Shabaab leadership Mukhtar Robow was detained by Ethiopian AMISOM soldiers and brought to Mogadishu (see section 3). He was placed in NISA custody and later moved into house arrest. As of September Robow remained under house arrest without charge. In July, according to the media outlet Garowe Online, Robow went on a four-day hunger strike to protest his continued detention without charge.
As competition regarding the federal elections increased, on November 3, one of President Farmaajo’s former advisors, Abdi Ali Rage, announced that his chief political campaign official supporting his run for a seat in the lower house to represent Jubaland was detained by authorities in Kismayo on unspecified charges. He indicated that Jubaland authorities detained this individual and threatened to “deport” him from the FMS due to his “political affiliation,” referencing Rage’s well-known earlier political break with Jubaland President Ahmed Islam “Madobe.”
Somaliland authorities continued to detain Somaliland residents employed by the federal government in Mogadishu, sometimes for extended periods. Somaliland authorities did not authorize officials in Mogadishu to represent Somaliland within or to the federal government and viewed such actions as treason, punishable under Somaliland law.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There were only a handful of lawsuits during the year seeking damages for or cessation of human rights abuses. Individuals generally do not pursue legal remedies for abuses due to a lack of trust and confidence in the fairness of judicial procedures. The provisional federal constitution provides for “adequate procedures for redress of abuses of human rights.”
Property Seizure and Restitution
Some federal and state officials abused their positions to engage in land grabbing and forced evictions, primarily involving internally displaced person (IDP) returnees, without due process. Those driven from their homes were often too politically and socially disempowered to resist or obtain restitution (see section 2.d.).
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
According to the provisional federal constitution, “every person has the right to own, use, enjoy, sell, and transfer property,” and the private home is inviolable. Nonetheless, authorities searched property without warrants.
Government and regional authorities harassed relatives of al-Shabaab members.
g. Conflict-related Abuses
Killings: Conflict during the year involving the government, militias, AMISOM, and al-Shabaab resulted in death, injury, and displacement of civilians. ISIS-Somalia claimed attacks against Somali authorities and other targets in Puntland, where it is based, but there was little local reporting on its claims. State and federal forces killed civilians and committed gender-based violence. Clan-based political violence involved revenge killings and attacks on civilian settlements. Clashes between clan-based forces and with al-Shabaab in Puntland and Galmudug states, as well as in the Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Lower Juba, Baidoa, and Hiiraan regions, also resulted in deaths.
There were reports of AMISOM forces killing civilians, either deliberately or inadvertently (see section 1.a.).
The execution of young prisoners who were held in GCP raised international concern. UNODC monitored another young prisoner who was given the death penalty and followed up with the national authority as the Puntland government formed a committee to evaluate the case in relation to the age factor.
Al-Shabaab committed religiously and politically motivated killings that targeted civilians affiliated with the government and attacked humanitarian NGO employees, UN staff, and diplomatic missions. The group attacked soft targets, such as popular hotels in Mogadishu, killing noncombatants. Al-Shabaab often used suicide bombers, mortars, and IEDs. It also killed prominent peace activists, community leaders, clan elders, electoral delegates, and their family members for their roles in peace building, in addition to beheading persons accused of spying for and collaborating with Somali national forces and affiliated militias. Al-Shabaab justified its attacks on civilians by casting them as false prophets, enemies of Allah, or aligned with al-Shabaab’s enemies (see also section 1.a.).
On January 31, al-Shabaab attacked the Afrik Hotel near the international airport in Mogadishu, killing five persons, including former SNA general and revered security official Mohamed Nur Galal.
UN reporting continued to track small-scale IED attacks and killings by ISIS-Somalia, primarily in Puntland, where the group maintained pockets of presence. On June 29, an ISIS-Somalia IED attack in Puntland killed one soldier.
Abductions: Al-Shabaab conducted kidnappings and abductions throughout the year.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: Government forces and allied militias reportedly used excessive force, including torture. While some security force members accused of such abuses faced arrest, not all those charged were punished (see section 1.c).
Al-Shabaab committed gender-based violence, including through forced marriages.
Child Soldiers: During the year there were reports of the SNA and allied militias, the Ahlu Sunna Wal Jumah (ASWJ), and al-Shabaab unlawfully recruiting and using child soldiers.
The Ministry of Defense Child Protection Unit (CPU) was a focal point within the federal government for addressing child soldiers within the country, including within government armed forces. During the year the CPU carried out screenings of 3,296 SNA soldiers at SNA bases to raise awareness of unlawful child soldier recruitment and verify the number of children in Somali security sector units for corrective action. The CPU continued the use of biometric registration and reported that it was a useful tool for increasing accountability in police and the military and helping to detect and deter unlawful child soldier recruitment.
In the absence of birth registration systems, it was often difficult to determine the age of national security force recruits.
Al-Shabaab continued to recruit and force children to participate directly in hostilities, including suicide attacks. According to UN officials, al-Shabaab accounted for most child recruitment and use.
Al-Shabaab raided schools, madrassas, and mosques and harassed and coerced clan elders to recruit children. Children in al-Shabaab training camps were subjected to grueling physical training, weapons training, inadequate diet, physical punishment, and forced religious training in line with al-Shabaab’s ideology. The training also included forcing children to punish and execute other children. Al-Shabaab used children in direct hostilities, including placing them in front of other fighters to serve as human shields and suicide bombers. The organization sometimes used children to plant roadside bombs and other explosive devices. In addition, al-Shabaab used children in support roles, such as carrying ammunition, water, and food; removing injured and dead militants; gathering intelligence; and serving as guards. The country’s press frequently reported accounts of al-Shabaab indoctrinating children according to the insurgency’s extremist ideology at schools and forcibly recruiting them into its ranks.
Also see the Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Other Conflict-related Abuse: Armed groups, particularly al-Shabaab but also government forces and militia, deliberately restricted the passage of relief supplies and other items, as well as access by humanitarian organizations, particularly in the southern and central regions. Humanitarian workers regularly faced checkpoints, roadblocks, extortion, carjacking, and bureaucratic obstacles.
Denial of humanitarian access by armed groups, security forces, or security incidents was common. Al-Shabaab sustained attacks against security forces along main supply routes. Increased insecurity along these routes impaired delivery of humanitarian supplies. Throughout the year al-Shabaab seized main supply routes and limited movement of food and commodities trucks in Oansah, Dheere, Wajid, and Hudur districts. Al-Shabaab’s efforts to curtail the transportation of food and nonfood supplies into South West State resulted in increased food prices in this FMS. Economic blockades by the insurgency impacted several districts in the Bay and Bakool regions. Additionally, al-Shabaab reportedly displaced 3,800 households from Toosweyne in the Berdale district through evictions.
ISIS-Somalia targeted business leaders for extortion in urban areas and used violence when they did not meet extortion demands.