Death Penalty Database

Somalia

Information current as of: January 1, 2010

General

Official Country Name

Somalia. [1]

Geographical Region

Africa (Eastern Africa). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. While many executions in Somalia should be considered extrajudicial executions because they are not carried out by a functioning government, there were legal executions carried out in 2008, and the TFG, Somaliland, Puntland and militia-controlled regions retain the death penalty. [3] In January 2011, the TGF executed three soldiers for murder. [4]

Methods of Execution

Shooting.
The unrecognized Republic of Somaliland continues applying the old Somali Penal Code, [5] under which executions are by shooting. [6] The federal government has carried out executions by shooting. [7] Extrajudicial tribunals associated with militias carry out executions by shooting. [8] Death is by shooting under the Military Penal Code. [9]

Comments.
Somalia recognizes Shari’a law (alongside existing law) and Islamic tribunals, [10] which could authorize other methods of execution. Various methods of execution are used, including beheading [11] and stoning, [12] but these have been extrajudicial executions by militias. In fact, these executions were illegal under Shari’a law, [13] and it may be wise to view them as acts of terrorism by militias to frighten and subjugate the population in areas under militia control. [14]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Somalia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm, Nov. 8, 2010.
[2] U.N. World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-100, Aug. 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and 9. Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, 38-39, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[4] AllAfrica.com, Somalia: Military Court Conducts Death Penalty Against Three Soldiers, http://allafrica.com/stories/201101170463.html, Jan. 15, 2011.
[5] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-100, Aug. 2010.
[6] Somali Penal Code, art. 94, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[7] Aweys Osman Yusuf, Government Carries out a Public Execution in Mogadishu, allAfrica.com, http://allafrica.com/stories/200707051091.html, Jul. 5, 2007; Abdi Hajji Hussein, Somali Military Court Carries Out Death Penalty Against Soldier, All Headline News, http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7020744458?Somali%20military%20court%20carries%20out%20death%20penalty%20against%20soldier, Dec. 7, 2010.
[8] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-100, Aug. 2010; Mohamed Olad Hassan, Two Somali Girls Executed by Firing Squad ‘for Spying’, The Independent, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/two-somali-girls-executed-by-firing-squad-for-spying-2119535.html, Oct. 29, 2010.
[9] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, art. 19, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[10] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-100, Aug. 2010; Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009.
[11] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009.
[12] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[13] Death Penalty News, Somalia: Execution by Stoning, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2008/10/somalia-execution-by-stoning.html, Oct. 28, 2008.
[14] For example a young girl was executed by stoning after allegedly “confessing” to the crime of adultery (zina). Death Penalty News, Somalia: Execution by Stoning, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2008/10/somalia-execution-by-stoning.html, Oct. 28, 2008; Chris McGreal, Rape Victim, 13, Stoned to Death in Somalia, Guardian.co.uk, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/02/somalia-gender, Nov. 2, 2008. A review of Shari’a law shows that this execution was illegal on several levels. First, the militia declared that the girl had confessed and repeated her confession the sufficient number of times to validate it. Such confessions must be freely given, and may be withdrawn—as evidence suggests the struggling girl wished to do (if she had ever given a confession in the first place). Second, under most Shari’a schools, the confession of a 13-year-old is invalid, and under any Shari’a school, the father’s allegations that she was the victim of a gang rape should have cast doubt upon the validity of the girl’s confession (even if she were of sufficient age, and even if she actually gave a confession). If there was no confession, the protest that the girl was raped should have precluded any hadd penalty for adultery. Third, only married offenders can be given the death penalty as hadd, and there is no indication that this 13 year old girl was married. For a discussion of evidentiary protections and other due process requirements under Shari’a law, see Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 17-33, 38, 45-47, 49-51, 81-91, 111-129, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003; Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 75-84, 99, 104-105, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 26, 91-107, 109-122, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p.64-68, 246-286, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 82-83, Intl. Law Inst., 1997; S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam (The Philosophy of Jurisprudence in Islam), p. 168-200, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 124-132, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[15] For a discussion on the distinction between the offense of hiraba as opposed to the offense of rebellion, and how some schools of Islamic law have described it, see Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 6, 21, 234-320, Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Country Details

Language(s)

Somali. [1]

Population

9,800,000. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

10. This figure represents our best estimate. We were unable to determine the exact number of individuals held under sentence of death. Illegal executions are often carried out upon conviction by militia-controlled “tribunals.” [3] Reports by Amnesty International and Hands Off Cain together suggest at least 25 individuals have been held on death row since 2005, [4] with as many as 15 official executions. [5] Amnesty’s Death Sentences and Executions in 2010 reports that roughly as many individuals were sentenced to death as were executed in Somaliland, Puntland and areas controlled by the TGF. [6] We thus cannot confirm whether there are more than 10 individuals on death row, and do not know whether there has been a change to their status or are additional individuals on death row.

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on August 15, 2017)

There have been 12 executions carried out by military courts. [7] 11 of these were reported to have taken place in April 2017. [8] (This is the number of executions reported in the media. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.)

Somalia’s semi-autonomous region Puntland has executed at least 12 prisoners in 2017. [9]

Executions in 2016

7. [10]

Amnesty International reported that Somaliland executed 6 prisoners in 2016. [11] Puntland executed 1 prisoner in August 2016. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

At least 28. Amnesty International confirmed at least 25 executions in 2015, including at least 17 in the Federal Government of Somalia, [13] 6 in Somaliland [14] and 2 in Jubaland. [15] Additionally, media reports indicate that Puntland carried out 3 executions for terrorism-related offenses in March 2015. [16]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

1 execution per 445,454 persons.

Executions in 2014

At least 14. [17] (This is the number of executions reported in the media. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.)

Per capita execution rate in 2014

1 execution per 700,000 persons.

Executions in 2013

At least 34 (at least 15 by the federal government and at least 19 in Puntland). [18]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

1 execution per 1,400,000 persons.

Executions in 2012

At least 6 (at least 5 carried out by the Transitional Federal Government, and at least 1 carried out in Puntland). [19]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

1 execution per 1,633,333 persons.

Executions in 2011

10. (6 by the Transitional Federal Government, 3 in Puntland and 1 in Galmudug). [20]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

1 execution per 980,000 persons.

Executions in 2010

8. [21]

Executions in 2009

0. [22]

Executions in 2008

0. [23]

Executions in 2007

5. [24]

Year of Last Known Execution

2016. 1. [25] (This is the number of executions reported by the media and other sources. Because of the secrecy surrounding capital punishment, we are not able to offer a reliable estimate.)

Somaliland executed 8 prisoners in January 2015. [26]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Somalia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm, Nov. 8, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Somalia, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2863.htm, Nov. 8, 2010.
[3] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010; Chris McGreal, Rape Victim, 13, Stoned to Death in Somalia, Guardian.co.uk, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/02/somalia-gender, Nov. 2, 2008.
[4] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Jan. 1, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010; Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010. Unfortunately, Amnesty reports from 2005-2008 did not specify the number of death sentences pronounced.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008; Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010. We do not know whether some of the executions reported by Hands Off Cain are judicial executions or executions carried out by tribunals controlled by militants. For instance, Hands Off Cain reports 3 executions in 2008, but Amnesty does not. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[6] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and 9. Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, 38-39. ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[7] Mohamed Olad Hassan, Executions increase in Somalia, https://www.voanews.com/a/executions-increase-in-somalia/3851581.html, Voice of America, May 15, 2017. Somali National News Agency, Military court executes Al-Shabaab militant, https://sonna.so/en/military-court-executes-al-shabaab-militant/, May 18, 2017.
[8] Mohamed Olad Hassan, Executions increase in Somalia, https://www.voanews.com/a/executions-increase-in-somalia/3851581.html, Voice of America, May 15, 2017.
[9] Africa News with Reuters, Five suspected al Shabaab militants executed in Somalia for killing officials, http://www.africanews.com/2017/04/09/five-suspected-al-shabaab-militants-executed-in-somalia-for-killing-officials/, Apr. 9, 2017. IOL, Al-Shabaab militants executed in Somalia’s Puntland, http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/al-shabaab-militants-executed-in-somalias-puntland-10076426, Jun. 30, 2017.
[10] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017. See e.g. Delegation of the European Union to Somalia, Somalia: Heads of Missions of the European Union and Member States Condemn Executions Carried Out in Mogadishu and Dararwayne and Mandera http://allafrica.com/stories/201601140830.html, Jan. 13, 2016. Horseed Media, Somalia executes two Al-Shabab fighters for killing journalist, https://horseedmedia.net/2016/04/09/somalia-executes-two-shebab-fighters-for-killing-journalist/, Apr. 9, 2016. Associated Press, Somalia: Man executed for journalists’ killings, http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-04-11/somalia-man-executed-by-for-journalists-killings, Apr. 11, 2016.
[11] Hiiraan, Somaliland executes four soldiers convicted of murders, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2016/Jan/103529/somaliland_executes_four_soldiers_convicted_of_murders.aspx, Jan. 12, 2016. Somaliland Press, Somaliland: State carries out executions for the second time in a month, http://www.somalilandpress.com/somalilandstate-carries-out-executions-for-the-second-time-in-a-month/, Jan. 17, 2016. Somaliland Press, Somaliland: State carries out executions for the second time in a month, http://www.somalilandpress.com/somalilandstate-carries-out-executions-for-the-second-time-in-a-month/, Jan. 17, 2016.
[12] All Africa, Somalia: Puntland Military Court Executes Officer Over Killing, http://allafrica.com/stories/201608140378.html, Aug. 14, 2016.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2015, ACT 50/3487/2016, Apr. 6, 2016. See e.g. Horseed Media, Somalia’s military court executes soldiers over killings, http://horseedmedia.net/2015/03/24/somalias-military-court-executes-soldiers-over-killings, Mar. 24, 2015. BBC, Somalia executes two MP assassins, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-32719987, May 13, 2015. RBC Radio, Somalia: South West State Executes Convicted Al-shabab Fighter in Baydhao, http://www.raxanreeb.com/2015/05/somalia-south-west-state-executes-convicted-al-shabab-member-in-baydhao/, May 19, 2015. Garowe, Somalia: Military court executes soldier for murder in Mogadishu, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/somalia/somalia-military-court-executes-soldier-for-murder-in-mogadishu, Aug. 20, 2015. Horseed Media, Somalia: Seven soldiers executed for ‘murdering civilians’, http://horseedmedia.net/2015/09/18/somalia-seven-soldiers-executed-for-murdering-civilians, Sept. 18, 2015.
[14] Human Rights Watch, Somaliland : Activist Who Questioned Executions Detained, http://www.hrw.org/news/2015/04/22/somaliland-activist-who-questioned-executions-detained, Apr. 22, 2015.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2015, ACT 50/3487/2016, Apr. 6, 2016.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2015, ACT 50/3487/2016, Apr. 6, 2016. See e.g. Garowe, Somalia: Puntland military court executes 3 alleged Al Shabaab members, http://www.garoweonline.com/en/news/puntland/somalia-puntland-military-court-executes-3-alleged-al-shabaab-members#sthash.zHb866RT.dpuf, Mar. 16, 2015.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Executions and Death Sentences in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015. Laetitia Bader, Summary executions in Somalia, Human Rights Watch, http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/25/summary-executions-somalia, Aug. 25, 2014. Standard Digital News, Somalia soldier executed in Mogadishu over pupil murder, https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/mobile/?articleID=2000101655&story_title=somalia-soldier-executed-in-mogadishu-over-pupil-murder&pageNo=1, Jan. 6, 2014. UN News Centre, Somalia: UN rights office calls for moratorium after ‘hasty’ execution of alleged murderer, http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=47503&Cr=death+penalty&Cr1=#.U0XpKK1dVMg, Apr. 4, 2014. Reuters, Somalia executes three suspected militants by firing squad, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/03/us-somalia-execution-idUSKBN0G30IA20140803, Aug. 3, 2014. Sabahi, Somali military court chief wages legal war against al-Shabaab, defends executions, http://sabahionline.com/en_GB/articles/hoa/articles/features/2014/08/11/feature-01, Aug. 11, 2014. Garowe Online, Somalia: Jubaland military court executes soldier for murder, http://www.garoweonline.com/page/show/post/1005/somalia-jubaland-military-court-executes-soldier-for-murder, Nov. 23, 2014.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and 9. Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, 38-39. ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[22] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[23] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 8, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[24] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[25] Delegation of the European Union to Somalia, Somalia: Heads of Missions of the European Union and Member States Condemn Executions Carried Out in Mogadishu and Dararwayne and Mandera http://allafrica.com/stories/201601140830.html, Jan. 13, 2016.
[26] Hiiraan, Somaliland executes four soldiers convicted of murders, http://www.hiiraan.com/news4/2016/Jan/103529/somaliland_executes_four_soldiers_convicted_of_murders.aspx, Jan. 12, 2016. Somaliland Press, Somaliland: State carries out executions for the second time in a month, http://www.somalilandpress.com/somalilandstate-carries-out-executions-for-the-second-time-in-a-month/, Jan. 17, 2016.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
We did not find a reference to aggravated murder in Somalia’s written secular law. Courts that practice customary law (Xeer) may pronounce death sentences “[i]f a murder is particularly violent…even if the family of victim would prefer the mak [payment of compensation].” (Under customary law, the punishment for killing (dil) is death, but the victim’s family often accepts compensation (mag/mak) in lieu of talion. The law does not formally distinguish between premeditated murder, murder, manslaughter, and unintentional killing. A proxy may be executed if the murderer flees and the victim’s family will not accept mag, but in practice the execution of a proxy is unlikely.) [1] Under the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam (which in the past has not been strictly applied in Somalia) a premeditated murder during an armed group robbery was treated similarly to aggravated murder in that it carried a heightened penalty. [2]

Murder.
Under the 1962 Penal Code, still applicable in parts of Somalia, [3] murder is punished by death. [4] Under Xeer, the death penalty can apply for murder if the victim’s family does not accept mag. [5] Under the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam, the offender may be subject to death as qisas if “the killer intended to kill and employed some means likely to have that result,” [6] unless the victim’s family accepts compensation. [7]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
We did not find secular written law that prescribes the death penalty for homicide short of murder. Under Xeer, unintentional killing, manslaughter and unpremeditated murder could be punished by death if the victim’s family refused to accept mag. [8] The Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam traditionally restricted statutory (hadd or qisas) penalties for killing to intentional killing. [9]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Under the 1962 Penal Code, still applicable in parts of Somalia, “carnage”—an act against the public safety and intended to result in death—is punished by death. [10] Causing an epidemic, resulting in death, is punished by death. [11] Under Xeer, any homicide might be punishable by death if the victim’s family does not accept mag, [12] but there is no offense of “terrorism” as such. Under Shari’a law, hiraba (to “wage war against God and His Prophet, and strive to cause corruption on the earth…”) [13] has been seen by some modern scholars as relevant to the offense of terrorism, [14] but these discussions have not been dispositive, and the Shafi’i school (predominant in Somalia) [15] may have been relatively uninvolved in the development of this concept. [16] In any case, under the Shafi’i school there might not be statutory penalties (hadd or qisas) except for intentional murders. [17]

Treason.
Under the 1962 Penal Code (still applicable in some parts of Somalia), the punishment for waging or leading armed aggression against the state, assisting the enemy, usurping military powers, interfering with intelligence (with effect of undermining the defense), espionage undermining the defense or threatening state security, or espionage-related offenses affecting allies is death. [18]

Espionage.
Under the 1962 Penal Code (still applicable in some parts of Somalia), the punishment for interfering with intelligence (with effect of undermining the defense), espionage undermining the defense or threatening state security, or espionage-related offenses affecting allies is death. [19]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Under the 1963 Code of Military Criminal Law, which may be current in Somalia, initiation of unauthorized hostilities by a commander is punished by death if an engagement occurs, or if devastation (or loss of life) is a result. [20] Intelligence-related offenses may be punished by death. [21] A commander who causes the loss or capture of ships or aircraft (or service persons, by not being the last to abandon a ship) is punishable by death. [22] Usurpation of command (when endangering an operation), or destruction or sabotage of military works, is punishable by death. [23]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Under the 1962 Penal Code, still applicable in some parts of Somalia, “pollution” of food or water before it reaches market, resulting in death, is punished by death. [24]

Comments.
Defining the applicable law in Somalia is a difficult task due to several reasons. First, the different regions of Somalia seem to apply different laws. The 1962 Penal Code is still applicable in much of Somalia, [25] but Puntland courts can apply customary law (Xeer), [26] and the Transitional Federal Government (TGF) has authorized the application of Shari’a law by Islamic courts. [27] Reports assess this move as an attempt to pacify the insurgency in the southern portions of Somalia, [28] a move the insurgency has dismissed as “conspiracy against the Islamist fighters and their cause.” [29] In late 2010, one news report suggested that the TGF has not fully (if at all) implemented Shari’a law, [30] and Amnesty International has aptly characterized the implementation of Shari’a by militants in the south as unlawful, stating that “under the pretext of maintaining law and order, the armed groups aim at intimidating and instilling fear in the civilian population in order to assert their control over territory.” [31] Further complicating what constitutes lawful application of Shari’a in Somalia is that, traditionally, Xeer law has controlled. It is permissible to apply religious law that “would settle the conflict in a way more in line with the customary usage of the community,” and courts can and sometimes must incorporate the testimony of religious leaders, but customary law takes precedent over religious law. [32] The situation that exists today, in which the insurgency demands application of Shari’a law, is out of touch with traditional Somali practice.

In any case, the insurgency in the southern regions is not applying Shari’a law—it is merely applying Shari’a penalties without any grounding in lawful application of the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam. For instance, insurgents have applied the death penalty for adultery. Under Shari’a law, a married person who commits adultery is liable to the death penalty. [33] Stringent evidentiary requirements must be met for the death penalty to apply as hadd; in other situations, a ta’zir penalty can apply. (Typically, a ta’zir penalty cannot be as severe as a hadd penalty unless there are serious aggravating circumstances.) [34] Essentially, for the death penalty for adultery to apply as hadd, the court must hear the eyewitness testimony of four witnesses of good character, or a freely given confession of the adulterer being charged. The adulterer must be married, and the hadd penalty cannot be applied if there is doubt as to the illegality of the accused person’s act or as to whether any testimony or confession was given freely by a person capable of legal consent. This would tend to suggest that when a 13 year old girl who was the victim of rape and whose “confession” was arguably involuntary, was subsequently executed by being dragged into a pit and stoned to death in front of a horrified and protesting crowd of Somalis (some of whom were assaulted or murdered by militants when they attempted to intervene) was not lawful under Shari’a. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened after the lawless judgment of a tribunal in Al-Shabab controlled southern Somalia. [35]

Insurgent militias have carried out executions for murder, supporting the TGF and espionage, among other charges, after little judicial process and often based on “confessions.” [36] As Amnesty points out, militants do not assure due process. [37] Additionally, some executions for “offenses” such as supporting the TGF during an insurgency are not recognized under Shari’a. Traditionally the right to kill opponents in a political struggle is limited to acts necessary to subdue them, and usually would not include a judicial death penalty for an opponent who is not engaging in armed resistance or flight. [38] Nevertheless, both the insurgency and pro-TGF militias carry out murders of captured opponents. [39]

The Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam is predominant in Somalia, [40] but Somalis practice a moderate Sunni Islam [41] that has been incorporated alongside traditional beliefs and customs. [42] Other sources confirm that the Somali people have seen their customary law, as opposed to a strict Shari’a law, as Somali law, [43] and that Xeer is predominantly a compensation-based system, allowing the death penalty only for offenses resulting in death. [44] We believe that the lawless imposition of severe penalties by militia-controlled tribunals is not Shari’a law and is not consistent with Somali law, and we doubt whether the brand of “Shari’a” imposed by militants will survive the terror-based insurgency that imposes it.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Unsure. We are unsure whether the death penalty is mandatory in Somalia. Where the 1962 Penal Code is applied, the death penalty might not be mandatory because the court is free to consider enumerated circumstances or “any other circumstance that the Judge considers to be such as to justify a lessening of the punishment.” [45] This is also true under the Code of Military Criminal Law. [46] We do not know whether the concurrent application of Shari’a principles [47] limits the court’s discretion in cases involving the private right of retaliation for murder. [48] The question of whether the death penalty is mandatory is complicated by the recent authorization of the Shari’a law by the Transitional Federal Government. [49] Further complicating the issue is that traditionally, the Somali people have applied Shari’a as interactive with Xeer (applied in Puntland [50] ), [51] a compensatory justice regime [52] in which a killer is executed if the victim’s family does not accept compensation. [53] We do know that in Somaliland’s [54] and Puntland’s [55] constitutions the right of qisas (retributive execution for murder unless the victim’s family accepts a payment of compensation or forgives the offender) seems to be reserved to the victim’s family, and under the Xeer system offenses resulting in death are punished by death if the victim’s family does not accept compensation (mag). [56] This suggests that the families of victims, rather than courts, may determine whether an individual will be executed for murder—and thus the death penalty for murder could be mandatory because the court cannot exercise discretion without the family’s permission.

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Aggravated Murder.
Murder may be punished by death in systems influenced by customary [57] or Shari’a [58] law unless the victim’s family accepts compensation.

Murder.
Murder may be punished by death in systems influenced by customary [59] or Shari’a [60] law unless the victim’s family accepts compensation.

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Offenses resulting in death may be punished by death in systems influenced by customary [61] law unless the victim’s family accepts compensation.

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Offenses resulting in death may be punished by death in systems influenced by customary [62] or Shari’a (murder offenses) [63] law unless the victim’s family accepts compensation.

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Murder.
In January 2011, the TGF executed three soldiers for murder. [64] In 2010, Puntland executed individuals for murder [65] (although this does not account for all of the executions in Puntland in 2010).

Comments.
There have been a number of extrajudicial executions in the past few years, for crimes such as espionage, treason, adultery and murder. [66]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Under the 1962 Penal Code (still applicable in Somaliland and some regions of Somalia), individuals who commit crimes while under the age of 18 receive reduced sentences. [67] Somalia is a party to the ICCPR, [68] which bars executions of individuals for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and is constitutionally binding in Somalia [69] and Somaliland. [70]

Pregnant Women.
The execution of nonpecuniary punishments is suspended for pregnant women under the 1962 Penal Code. [71]

Women With Small Children.
The execution of nonpecuniary punishments is suspended for women with newly born infants under the 1962 Penal Code. [72]

Mentally Ill.
Under the 1962 Penal Code (still applicable in Somaliland and some regions of Somalia), individuals are not liable for offenses committed while insane and unable to understand the nature or consequences of their actions, and receive reduced sentences for offenses committed under diminished capacity. [73]

Comments.
The application of Shari’a law in some areas of Somalia could eventually lead to some protection of pregnant women and young mothers from the death penalty (as anathema to the Quran and Sunna), [74] and of the intellectually disabled, [75] insane [76] or intoxicated, [77] while potentially (but not necessarily) undermining the 18-year bright-line definition of maturity. [78] However, the militants in southern Somalia do not seem intent on extending human rights protections. In Somaliland, where the Constitution’s recognition of international human rights law is quite broad, [79] it is arguable that conventions and customs against executions of some individuals could also have legal significance.

References

[1] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[2] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 75, 77-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982; Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 86, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[3] An annotated but undated translation of the Penal Code states that the Code is applied in Somaliland and Puntland, and is “current” (not necessarily applied) in South and Central Somalia. It also explains that the Penal Code applies in Somaliland only to the extent it complies with the Constitution and Shari’a, but this is the translator’s legal assessment, and we do not know how Somaliland courts are resolving such issues.
[4] Somali Penal Code, arts. 434, 436(2), 438(2), Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[5] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[6] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982. Note that for the Hanafi school, the death penalty could be awarded as ta’zir for a murder committed without use of means particularly likely to result in death. Id. at p. 109.
[7] Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 382-384, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997.
[8] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[9] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 75, 77-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[10] Somali Penal Code, art. 329, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[11] Somali Penal Code, art. 334, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[12] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[13] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 47, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[14] Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 41, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003.
[15] Encyclopedia of Nations, Somalia: Religions, http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Somalia-RELIGIONS.html, last accessed Feb. 12, 2011.
[16] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p 6, 21, 234-320, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
[17] Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 75, 77-79, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996.
[18] Somali Penal Code, arts.184, 185, 190, 198, 199, 200, 201, 205, 211, 224, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com; Abdi Hajji Hussein, Somali Military Court Carries Out Death Penalty Against Soldier, All Headline News, http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7020744458?Somali%20military%20court%20carries%20out%20death%20penalty%20against%20soldier, Dec. 7, 2010.
[19] Somali Penal Code, arts. 190, 198, 199, 200, 201, 205, 211, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[20] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, art. 87, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[21] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, art. 69-70, 72, 85, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[22] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, arts. 89, 97, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[23] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, arts. 98, 151, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[24] Somali Penal Code, art. 335, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[25] An annotated but undated translation of the Penal Code states that the Code is applied in Somaliland and Puntland, and is “current” (not necessarily applied) in South and Central Somalia. It also explains that the Penal Code applies in Somaliland only to the extent it complies with the Constitution and Shari’a, but this is the translator’s legal assessment, and we do not know how Somaliland courts are resolving such issues.
[26] U.N.D.P. Somalia, Traditional Elders in Puntland Firm Up on Human Rights, http://www.so.undp.org/index.php/Somalia-Stories/Traditional-elders-in-Puntland-firm-up-on-human-rights.html, Jul. 24, 2010.
[27] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009; Al Jazeera English, Somalia Votes to Implement Shari’a, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/04/200941895049381692.html, Apr. 19, 2009; People’s Daily Online, Somali President Signs Islamic Shari’a Bill into Law, http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/6657358.html, May 14, 2009.
[28] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009; Al Jazeera English, Somalia Votes to Implement Shari’a, http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/04/200941895049381692.html, Apr. 19, 2009; People’s Daily Online, Somali President Signs Islamic Shari’a Bill into Law, http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/6657358.html, May 14, 2009.
[29] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 100, Aug. 2010; People’s Daily Online, Somali President Signs Islamic Shari’a Bill into Law, http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90777/90855/6657358.html, May 14, 2009.
[30] AllAfrica.com, Somalia: President Sharif- “We are Committed to Implement Sharia Law,” http://allafrica.com/stories/201010250258.html, Oct. 23, 2010.
[31] Amnesty Intl., Somalia: UN Universal Periodic Review 11th Session of the UPR Working Group, May 2011, p. 5-6, AFR 52/014/2010, Nov. 1, 2010.
[32] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 33-38, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[33] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 14, American Trust Publications, 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 68, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996. But see Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[34] Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 82-83, Intl. Law Inst., 1997; S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 177, 184-185, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961; Dr. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 64, 99, 104-105, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 26, 109-122, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 63-64, 146-186, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 24-26, 38, 45-47, 72, 111-129, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 124-131, American Trust Publications, 1982.
[35] Death Penalty News, Somalia: Execution by Stoning, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2008/10/somalia-execution-by-stoning.html, Oct. 28, 2008; Chris McGreal, Rape Victim, 13, Stoned to Death in Somalia, Guardian.co.uk, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/02/somalia-gender, Nov. 2, 2008.
[36] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 100-101, Aug. 2010.
[37] Amnesty Intl., Somalia: UN Universal Periodic Review 11th Session of the UPR Working Group, May 2011, p. 5-6, AFR 52/014/2010, Nov. 1, 2010.
[38] For a discussion on the distinction offense of hiraba as opposed to the offense of rebellion, and how some schools of Islamic law have described it, see Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law, p p 21, 234-320, 324-327, Cambridge University Press, 2001. For a shorter (but not as obvious) description of transgression (as opposed to hiraba), see also M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 197-198, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Note that the ruler cannot kill those who are “arrested,” but can kill those who must be subdued—this can be read as consistent with Abou El Fadl’s description, under which the ruler can, as military action, kill those who fight to the death or attempt to flee and will not surrender.
[39] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 100-101, Aug. 2010.
[40] Encyclopedia of Nations, Somalia: Religions, http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/Africa/Somalia-RELIGIONS.html, last accessed Feb. 12, 2011.
[41] Kirsti Samuels, Constitution-Building During the War on Terror: The Challenge of Somalia, NYU J. of Intl. Law and Politics, Vol. 40, p. 597, 2007-2008.
[42] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 29, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[43] Delores A. Donovan & Getachew Assefa, Homicide in Ethiopia: Human Rights, Federalism, and Legal Pluralism, p. 516-518, 526, American J. of Comparative Law, Vol. 51, p. 505, 2003.
[44] Walter Dostal & Wolfgang Kraus, Shattering Tradition: Custom, Law and the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, p. 298-299,
[45] Somali Penal Code, arts. 40, 109, 119, 121, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[46] Somalia Code of Military Criminal Law, arts. 43-44, Legislative Decree No. 2, Dec. 24, 1963.
[47] As discussed in the translator’s preface to the Penal Code.
[48] Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 279-280, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997.
[49] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009.
[50] U.N.D.P. Somalia, Traditional Elders in Puntland Firm Up on Human Rights, http://www.so.undp.org/index.php/Somalia-Stories/Traditional-elders-in-Puntland-firm-up-on-human-rights.html, Jul. 24, 2010.
[51] Delores A. Donovan & Getachew Assefa, Homicide in Ethiopia: Human Rights, Federalism, and Legal Pluralism, p. 516-518, 526, American J. of Comparative Law, Vol. 51, p. 505, 2003.
[52] Walter Dostal & Wolfgang Kraus, Shattering Tradition: Custom, Law and the Individual in the Muslim Mediterranean, p. 298-299,
[53] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[54] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 90(i)(5), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005.
[55] Constitution of the Puntland State of Somalia, art. 80(11), Jun. 29, 2009; allAfrica.com, Somalia: Puntland Parliament Passes New Constitution, http://allafrica.com/stories/200906291404.html, Jun. 29, 2009 (confirming that the Constitution was legislatively ratified on June 29, 2009, the time stamp of the document we retrieved).
[56] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[57] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[58] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982. Note that for the Hanafi school, the death penalty could be awarded as ta’zir for a murder committed without use of means particularly likely to result in death. Id. at p. 109.
[59] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[60] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982. Note that for the Hanafi school, the death penalty could be awarded as ta’zir for a murder committed without use of means particularly likely to result in death. Id. at p. 109.
[61] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[62] Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[63] Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 75, American Trust Publications, 1982. Note that for the Hanafi school, the death penalty could be awarded as ta’zir for a murder committed without use of means particularly likely to result in death. Id. at p. 109.
[64] AllAfrica.com, Somalia: Military Court Conducts Death Penalty Against Three Soldiers, http://allafrica.com/stories/201101170463.html, Jan. 15, 2011.
[65] AllAfrica.com, Somalia: Puntland Executes Three Men, http://allafrica.com/stories/201008060253.html, Aug. 5, 2010.
[66] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 100-101, Aug. 2010; Chris McGreal, Rape Victim, 13, Stoned to Death in Somalia, Guardian.co.uk, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/02/somalia-gender, Nov. 2, 2008.
[67] Somali Penal Code, art. 60, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[68] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan 11, 2011.
[69] The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic, art. 14(1), 2004.
[70] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 21(2), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005.
[71] Somali Penal Code, art. 140, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[72] Somali Penal Code, art. 140, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[73] Somali Penal Code, arts. 50-51, 142(2&3), Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com.
[74] Gerald E. Lampe, ed., Justice and Human Rights in Islamic Law, p. 56, Intl. Law Inst., 1997.
[75] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 187, 192, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982. Note that some scholars differ, offering no legal explanation (unlike the previous source) and stating that the ability to discriminate between good and evil is the main requirement in determining liability for an intellectually disabled individual. Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 91, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[76] M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 186-187, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 90-91, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991.
[77] Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 91-92, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991; Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 64, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 187-188, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982.
[78] Traditionally, Shari’a law has excluded youthful offenders from the death penalty, although there was no specific age for full criminal liability. M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 192-193, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Nagaty Sanad, The Theory of Crime and Criminal Responsibility in Islamic Law: Shari’a, p. 89-90, Office of International Criminal Justice, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1991. Jurists eventually set a limit of 15 years, which in its time was a stricter limit than that applied by Roman law. S. Mahmassani, Falsafat Al-Tashri Fi Al-Islam, p. 138, translated by Farhat J. Ziadeh, E.J. Brill, 1961. Shari’a law is consistent with the contemporary 18-year rule, and the Arab Charter on Human Rights recognizes this, although it allows parties to opt out of the protection by legislating a lower minimum age for application of the death penalty.
[79] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 21(2), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Jan. 24, 1990. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

Yes. [4]

Date of Accession

Jan. 24, 1990. [5]

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [7]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Yes. [9]

Date of Accession

Jul. 31, 1985. [10]

Signed?

Yes. [11]

Date of Signature

Feb. 26, 1982. [12]

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

No. [13]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [14]

Date of Signature

Feb. 23, 2006. [15]

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

No. [16]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

Yes. [17]

Date of Signature

Jun. 1, 1991. [18]

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

No. [19]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [20]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Vote

In Favor. [21]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

Yes. [22]

Vote

In Favor. [23]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [24]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [25]

Vote

In Favor. [26]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [27]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [28]

Vote

In Favor. [29]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [30]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [31]

Vote

In Favor. [32]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [33]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [34]

Vote

Against. [35]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [36]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan 11, 2011.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jan. 11, 2011.
[9] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[10] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[11] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[12] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, Doc. 0002, http://au.int/en/sites/default/files/African_Charter_on_Human_and_Peoples_Rights.pdf, Aug. 2, 2011.
[13] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[14] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[15] African Union, List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, Doc. 0025, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/999Rights_of_Women.pdf, Feb. 14, 2011.
[16] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[17] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[18] African Union, Signatories, Accessions, and Ratifications, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Doc. 0003, http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/96Welfare_of_the_Child.pdf, Jan. 27, 2011.
[19] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[20] Arab League, Statement of Signatures and Ratifications of the Arab Charter of Human Rights, http://www.lasportal.org/wps/wcm/connect/498481804a04776ea1d7bd526698d42c/%D8%AC%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%8A%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84+%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89+%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%A8%D9%8A+%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%82%D9%88%D9%82+%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%86%D8%B3%D8%A7%D9%86.pdf?MOD=AJPERES (translated from Arabic by DPW), last accessed Apr. 7, 2014.
[21] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Recorded Vote on A/C.3/71/L.27 Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty, Nov. 17, 2016.
[22] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[23] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[24] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[26] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[27] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[28] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[29] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[30] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[31] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[32] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[34] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[35] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[36] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The Charter of the Transitional Federal Government provides: “Everyone shall have the right to life and no person shall be deprived of his/her life.” [1] It does not provide for any exceptions. The Transitional Federal Government does not have effective control of the country, and the only region with a functioning state is the breakaway Republic of Somaliland. [2] That Republic’s Constitution provides: “Every person has the right to life, and shall only be deprived of life if convicted in a court of an offense in which the sentence laid down by law is death.” [3] Puntland is a functioning semi-autonomous (or independent) state. A report by the U.S. Department of State suggests that Puntland’s Charter permits capital punishment. [4] We have located a document that may be Puntland’s 2009 Constitution, under which “Every person has a right to his/her life; save for capital punishment imposed in accordance with the Law.” [5]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The Charter of the Transitional Federal Government provides: “The Somali Republic shall recognize and enforce all international human rights conventions and treaties to which the Republic is a party.” [6] The Republic of Somaliland’s Constitution provides: “The articles which relate to fundamental rights and freedoms shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the international conventions on human rights and also with the international laws referred to in this Constitution.” [7] Under Article 10(2) the “Republic of Somaliland recognizes and shall act in conformity with the United Nations Charter and with international law, and shall respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” Puntland’s 2009 Constitution may provide for an office of a Human Rights Defender with the responsibility to “prevent violations of human rights, giving advice to the corresponding authorities,” and to promote among the population and authorities awareness and respect for rights “consecrated in the Constitution, Laws of the country, and stated in international protocols and conventions on Human Rights.” [8]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

The most significant change in the application of the death penalty in recent years is that Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government has authorized the application of Shari’a law, [9] under pressure from militias that adjudicate harshly and arbitrarily in territory they control. [10] In militant-controlled areas, extrajudicial killings by militias can occur, apparently after some perfunctory process by militia-controlled tribunals. [11] In 2006, the situation may have been somewhat different, as the Islamic Court Union formed partially in opposition to U.S. measures that engaged warlords to eliminate local tribunals in Mogadishu that were associated with militia groups. These tribunals were, reportedly, funded by business and civil society groups in response to prolonged lawlessness, and these groups contracted militias to enforce the tribunals’ decisions. Some tribunals might have been characterized as having extremist tendencies, others could not. The ICU coalesced from local tribunals, eventually posed a threat to the Transitional Federal Government, [12] and was removed by an Ethiopian invasion. [13] Al-Shabab—a militia formerly associated with the ICU—is now dominant in southern Somalia, and claims ties with Al-Qaeda. [14] Militia controlled tribunals apply a harsh and arbitrary version of something they call Shari’a law [15] (and which is in fact not Shari’a law). In 2009, the TFG (led by a moderate who helped spearhead the ICU) responded to pressures from militant groups by authorizing the application of Shari’a law by Shari’a courts. [16] Militants insist on the exclusive application of their abusive version of the Shari’a, amid fears in Puntland that its ability to continue securely applying its own interpretation of the Shari’a is threatened. [17] The situation may be unlikely to affect Somaliland significantly, which established an independent (though unrecognized) state in 1991, and displays unwillingness to participate in a unified Somalia. [18]

In Somaliland and Puntland, the rights of the accused may have been positively affected by UNDP programs over the past years. [19]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. [20]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We did not find any recent significant published cases during our research.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

We did not find any place to access Somali court judicial decisions, and legal scholars from Somaliland suggest that the Somali legal tradition does not involve publishing judicial opinions. [21]

What is the clemency process?

Under the old Constitution, the executive apparently possessed the prerogative of mercy, [22] but we did not find any discussion of the matter in our copy of the Transitional Federal Charter. [23] Somaliland’s Constitution states that the President’s prerogative of mercy cannot prejudice the just application of qisas and hadd penalties. [24] Puntland’s Constitution states that the President’s prerogative of mercy is limited to punishments not mandated by Shari’a law. [25]

The right to seek a pardon, as defined by international law, may not be fully extended in Somalia.

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Use of jury trials is atypical. [26]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

In areas controlled by the Transitional Federal Government, the appellate process established by law (courts of first instance, appellate courts, Supreme Court and high commission of justice) have not been created. Legal process is carried on by a hodgepodge of local and traditional courts. In Puntland, courts of first instance, appeal and a Supreme Court existed and functioned, although inadequately. [27] In Somaliland, there are courts of assizes (for serious offenses), a special appeals courts (which has two judges and two assessors) hearing cases from assizes, and a Supreme Court (which also functions as a Constitutional Court). Somalia’s courts are, in general, influenced by the Civil Law system rather than the Common Law approach due to predominantly French colonial control, although Somaliland itself was a British possession. [28]

References

[1] The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic, art. 16(1), 2004.
[2] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-100, Aug. 2010.
[3] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 24(1), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005.
[4] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. The Department suggests that the Puntland Charter permitted torture in the case of Shari’a punishments. This probably reflects the Departments’ (and international community’s) evaluation that some Shari’a punishments such as amputation or stoning amount to torture. See Cherif Bassiouni, Crimes and the Criminal Process, p. 283-284, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 3, 1997 (gratuitous torture is not permitted in Shari’a); Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 3-43, Oceana Publications, Dobbs-Ferry, N.Y., 1982 (providing a framework arguing that Shari’a criminal law is, or could be, compatible with international standards).
[5] Constitution of the Puntland State of Somalia, art. 18(1), Jun. 29, 2009; allAfrica.com, Somalia: Puntland Parliament Passes New Constitution, http://allafrica.com/stories/200906291404.html, Jun. 29, 2009 (confirming that the Constitution was legislatively ratified on June 29, 2009, the time stamp of the document we retrieved).
[6] The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic, art. 14(1), 2004.
[7] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 21(2), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005.
[8] Constitution of the Puntland State of Somalia, art. 118(1-2), Jun. 29, 2009; allAfrica.com, Somalia: Puntland Parliament Passes New Constitution, http://allafrica.com/stories/200906291404.html, Jun. 29, 2009 (confirming that the Constitution was legislatively ratified on June 29, 2009, the time stamp of the document we retrieved).
[9] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009.
[10] Voice of America, Puntland President Fears Loss of Autonomy, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-03-21-voa13-68813272.html, Mar. 21, 2009.
[11] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[12] Kirsti Samuels, Constitution-Building During the War on Terror: The Challenge of Somalia, NYU J. of Intl. Law and Politics, Vol. 40, p. 597, 2007-2008.
[13] New York Times, Al Shabab, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/al-shabab/index.html?scp=1&sq=puntland&st=cse, updated Jul. 13, 2010.
[14] New York Times, Al Shabab, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/al-shabab/index.html?scp=1&sq=puntland&st=cse, updated Jul. 13, 2010.
[15] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010; New York Times, Al Shabab, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/al-shabab/index.html?scp=1&sq=puntland&st=cse, updated Jul. 13, 2010; Voice of America, Puntland President Fears Loss of Autonomy, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-03-21-voa13-68813272.html, Mar. 21, 2009.
[16] Al Jazeera English, video news report available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhhwHwM3LsY, May 13, 2009.
[17] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010; New York Times, Al Shabab, http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/al-shabab/index.html?scp=1&sq=puntland&st=cse, updated Jul. 13, 2010; Voice of America, Puntland President Fears Loss of Autonomy, http://www.voanews.com/english/news/a-13-2009-03-21-voa13-68813272.html, Mar. 21, 2009.
[18] Kirsti Samuels, Constitution-Building During the War on Terror: The Challenge of Somalia, NYU J. of Intl. Law and Politics, Vol. 40, p. 597, 2007-2008.
[19] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; U.N.D.P. Somalia, Traditional Elders in Puntland Firm Up on Human Rights, http://www.so.undp.org/index.php/Somalia-Stories/Traditional-elders-in-Puntland-firm-up-on-human-rights.html, Jul. 24, 2010.
[20] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[21] Mohamed Farah Hersi, Research Guide to the Somaliland Legal System, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Somaliland.htm, Feb. 2009.
[22] Somali Penal Code, art. 169, Legislative Decree No. 5, Dec. 16, 1962, translation edited by www.somalilandlaw.com (referencing Article 75 of the Constitution no longer in effect).
[23] The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic, art. 14(1), 2004.
[24] The Constitution of the Republic of Somaliland, art. 90(i)(5), 1997, translated by: Ibrahim Hashi Jama, LL.B, LL.M., 2005. Qisas and Hadd (limits) penalties exist for offenses such as murder or murder in the course of robbery. Tahir Mahmood, et. al., Criminal Law in Islam and the Muslim World: A Comparative Perspective, p. 85-88, Institute of Objective Studies, 1st. ed., 1996; M. Cherif Bassiouni, ed., The Islamic Criminal Justice System, p. 203-209, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1982; Mohamed S. El-Awa, Punishment in Islamic Law: A Comparative Study, p. 69-85, 89, American Trust Publications, 1982; Muhammad Abdel Haleem, Adel Omar Sherif & Kate Daniels, eds., Criminal Justice in Islam: Judicial Procedure in the Shari’a, p. 84-85, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2003. Customary (Xeer) law traditionally controls in Somalia, so qisas and hadd penalties might be interpreted as limited to offenses resulting in death, where the family rather than the government possesses the prerogative of mercy. Michael van Notten, The Law of the Somalis: A Stable Foundation for Economic Development in the Horn of Africa, p. 55-56, 70, The Red Sea Press, Inc., 2006.
[25] Constitution of the Puntland State of Somalia, art. 80(11), Jun. 29, 2009; allAfrica.com, Somalia: Puntland Parliament Passes New Constitution, http://allafrica.com/stories/200906291404.html, Jun. 29, 2009 (confirming that the Constitution was legislatively ratified on June 29, 2009, the time stamp of the document we retrieved). See the former footnote—Shari’a penalties refers to qisas and hadd penalties, and in Somalia might refer to the tradition that for offenses resulting in death the victim’s family rather than the government held the prerogative of mercy.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[27] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[28] Mohamed Farah Hersi, Research Guide to the Somaliland Legal System, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Somaliland.htm, Feb. 2009.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

In much of Somalia, where militant groups condemn and execute individuals summarily, it may be fair to conclude that no one is on death row. [1] There may be a death row in Mogadishu, since Amnesty records some death sentences handed down in 2009. [2] (During our research, the official government’s control did not extend outside of the capital city.) We know that Somaliland has pronounced death sentences in the past, so individuals could be held under sentence of death in Somaliland; [3] the same is true of Puntland. [4]

Description of Prison Conditions

Individuals accused of death eligible offenses in Southern and Central Somalia are summarily executed by militants. [5] The U.S. Department of State reports that militias do maintain detention centers, where conditions are harsh and militia members frequently abuse detainees. Conditions are “dilapidated” and “inhumane.” The Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu maintains a prison with about 400 inmates, where conditions “improved and wardens were generally responsive to human rights problems.” The TGF works with the U.N. Development Program for Somalia to improve its criminal justice system. Puntland and Somaliland permit independent monitoring. Monitors indicate that conditions at Puntland’s Garowe central prison are grave due to severe overcrowding rather than intentional abuses. In Somaliland, the UNDP formed a monitoring team composed of medical doctors, government officials and civil society representatives, and assisted in building new facilities and training wardens and judicial officials. Overall, “[prison] conditions remained harsh and life threatening in all regions.” [6]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

We did not find reports of foreign nationals currently held under sentence of death.

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

We did not find reports of foreign nationals currently held under sentence of death.

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

We do not know whether any women are currently held under sentence of death.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

Individuals under the age of 18 are condemned and executed in the Southern and Central regions by militants. [7] We did not find reports of such executions or sentences in areas controlled by the government, Puntland or Somaliland forces.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

We are unable to provide data on the composition of death row.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Individuals accused of capital crimes in Southern and Central Somalia do not benefit from standard trial procedures. The Transitional Federal Government may provide legal aid, but legal rights granted under the Transitional Federal Charter are not usually respected in some areas. In Somaliland, individuals who face serious charges and cannot afford an attorney are given free counsel. In Puntland, the right to legal aid exists, but is not respected. [8]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

We were unable to determine whether lawyers are available for indigent prisoners on appeal. According to the U.S. Department of State, only Somaliland extends any right to legal aid in practice. [9]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

We have no comments on the quality of legal representation.

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

The United Nations Development Program for Somalia is involved in developing the criminal justice system of the Transitional Federal Government, Puntland and Somaliland. Currently, Somaliland has the best functioning criminal justice system, but its courts are not independent, old laws conflict with constitutional protections, and there is a shortage of trained professionals. Puntland’s courts function, but suffer from inadequate capacity. The courts established by the Transitional Federal Charter for the TFG have not been instituted. [10]

References

[1] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[2] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Jan. 1, 2011; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2010, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2010/en, Mar. 30, 2010. Unfortunately, reports do not specify a number of death sentences pronounced for other years since 2005.
[3] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 100, Aug. 2010.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and 9. Executions in 2010 in 2010, p. 5, 38-39. ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[5] Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[6] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Hands Off Cain, The Death Penalty Worldwide: 2010 Report, p. 99-101, Aug. 2010.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[9] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[10] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Somalia, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135976.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

We did not find any recent decisions or observations of the Human Rights Committee.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Somalia is scheduled for May 2011: http://www.upr-info.org/-Somalia-.html.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

None.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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