Category Archives: News

Somaliland rejects proposed visit by Ethiopia PM, Somali president

1024x538_1021479Somaliland rejects proposed visit by Ethiopia PM, Somali president
©AfricaNews
2 hours ago
Somalia

Somaliland has rejected a planned joint visit by Somali president Mohamed Abdulahi Farmaajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

A high-ranking official in Somaliland had confirmed a proposed visit to Hargeisa by Abiy and Farmaajo on the initiative of the PM. Hargeisa is capital of Somaliland, an autonomous region of Somalia.
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Voice of America journalist and author of “Inside AlShabab,” Harun Maruf posted a tweet that said Somaliland’s chairman of House of Elders Suleiman Mohamoud Aden as saying PM Abiy Ahmed was “pushing for a joint visit to Hargeisa by him and Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.”

It is the first concrete report of an information that started making the rounds on Twitter on Saturday evening when a post to that effect was made by one Khaalid Foodhaadhi.

A meeting between leaders of Somalia and Somaliland in Addis Ababa was brokered by Abiy last week after the 33rd African Union summit.

The Somali presidential spokesman confirmed that the “ice-breaking” meeting had indeed taken place between Farmaajo and Somaliland’s Muse Bihi.

Days later, Farmaajo made a public admission over excesses by the Siad Barre regime in the late eighties against Somaliland. An admission that received largely good comments on social media.

The planned joint visit to Hargeisa has also received positive traction as many people on social media see it as a positive first step towards finding an amicable solution to the longstanding rift between Somalia and Somaliland.
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Bihi, Farmajo Meeting To Feature In Ethiopia PM’s Talks

Bihi, Farmajo Meeting To Feature In Ethiopia PM’s Talks
14th February 2020
MAP
The expansion of the Somaliland Port of Berbera and the meeting between Somaliland and Somalia leaders will be among the discussions points between Ethiopia Prime Minister Aby Ahmed and the United Arab Emirates leadership this weekend.
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Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed landed in Abu Dhabi on Thursday evening for a round of talks with the hosting government over trade partnerships and efforts to find peace in the horn of Africa.
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Abiy was received at the Presidential Airport by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

Sheikh Abdullah welcomed Abiy and discussed relations and co-operation between the two countries and ways to tackle issues of mutual interest.

Abiy is accompanied by his wife, Zinash Tayachew, Dr Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Adanech Abebe, Minister of Revenues, and Muferiat Kamil, Ethiopian Minister of Peace.

Ethiopia and the UAE have partnered with Somaliland in the expansion of the port of Berbera which once completed will be the biggest in the region.

UAE’s DP World is expanding the port at a cost of USD 442 Million and is also expected to set up an economic free zone complement the growth of the Port of Berbera as a regional trading hub.

Somalia has been against the expansion of the port claiming Somaliland has no right to enter any international agreements.

Somaliland separated from Somalia in 1991 and declared its own independence. The two countries have been at loggerheads since then.

But early this week, the Ethiopian Prime Minister brokered a meeting between Somaliland president Musa Bihi and Somali president Abdullahi Farmajo in Addis Ababa, talks that lasted for an hour.

Ethiopia and the UAE believe that a lasting solution between Somalia and Somaliland is vital for their interests in the horn of Africa.

This is Abiy’s second trip to UAE in less than one year.

UAE was one of the Gulf nations Abiy visited last year as part of pooling regional support, especially for economic reforms. The Crown Prince also visited Addis Ababa in 2018.

Ethiopia – UAE relations have been on an upward trajectory over the course of 2018.

Over the last decade, the UAE has gradually increased its presence in the Horn of Africa, using development and humanitarian projects to boost its prominence.

It has significantly invested in ports, logistics and trade developments, to secure its port empire across the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait by the Red Sea, to profoundly boost its international trade and regional soft power.

The Emirati-owned company DP World’s opening of a port in Djibouti in 2008 signalled a developing presence in the relatively then-untouched Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia has served as a key platform for growing UAE influence, where Abu Dhabi alongside Saudi Arabia helped broker a peace deal with Eritrea, after a two-year state of war between the two states.

It has since continued to shower Ethiopia with aid, also carrying out key development projects. The UAE had also built an oil pipeline between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Emirati companies have increased investment particularly in Ethiopia.

Such moves are also an attempt to compete with Turkey, Iran and Qatar, whose increasingly positive ties with east African states are met with unease by Abu Dhabi.

A setback for the UAE’s political ambitions in the Horn of Africa, however, are its ties with Somalia who have grown closer to Turkey, a key Emirati rival.

In response, the UAE has focused its support on Somalia’s autonomous regions.

The UAE and Ethiopia last February agreed to cooperate to turn Somaliland into a “major regional trading hub,” which helps the UAE’s ally Ethiopia gain greater trading access, and subsequently boost the UAE’s own trading and economic capabilities.

Furthermore, its alliance with Ethiopia, which also invests in Somaliland’s Berbera port, has helped the UAE gain greater control over it.

The UAE has also attempted to build a military and naval base in Somaliland.

Leaders of Somalia, Breakaway Somaliland Meet for First Time

Leaders of Somalia, Breakaway Somaliland Meet for First Time
By The Associated Press
Feb. 12, 2020
Updated 7:23 a.m. ET
MAP

MOGADISHU, Somalia — The current leaders of Somalia and the breakaway territory of Somaliland have met for the first time in the latest diplomatic effort by Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister.
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Somali presidential spokesman Abdinur Mohamed confirmed Tuesday’s meeting to The Associated Press, saying it was brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

“It was behind closed doors and no communique is being released. It was an ice-breaking one,” the spokesman said.

Ethiopia’s government has not commented publicly on the talks, which occurred on the sidelines of an African Union gathering.

Continue reading the main story
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 as the country collapsed into warlord-led conflict, and it has seen little of the violence and extremist attacks that plague Somalia to the south. Despite lacking international recognition, Somaliland has maintained its own independent government, currency and security system.

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Somalia considers Somaliland as part of its territory. Several rounds of past talks over possible unification have failed to reach a breakthrough.

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This week’s meeting is the first since Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi took office in 2017.

Somali officials have blamed Somaliland leaders over the failure of past talks, accusing them of failing to show seriousness. Somaliland leaders have dismissed the allegations and insisted that their sovereignty is nonnegotiable.

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Continue reading the main story
Since taking office in 2018, Ethiopia’s leader has worked to achieve a number of diplomatic breakthroughs in the long-turbulent Horn of Africa region.

Somalia’s president faces a number of challenges in the months ahead. The country hopes to achieve its first one-person-one-vote election by the end of this year. It would be the first in 50 years. But the United Nations envoy for Somalia has pointed out the lack of “effective cooperation” between Somalia’s central government and its states as a major obstacle.

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Shakir Essa

Ilhan omar stolen my husband,mom says:

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A Washington, DC, mom says her political-consultant husband left her for Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to a bombshell divorce filing obtained by The Post.

Dr. Beth Mynett says her cheating spouse, Tim Mynett, told her in April that he was having an affair with the Somali-born US representative — and that he even made a “shocking declaration of love” for the Minnesota congresswoman before he ditched his wife, alleges the filing, submitted in DC Superior Court on Tuesday.
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Photo:Beth myneth

The physician, 55, and her 38-year-old husband — who has worked for left-wing Democrats such as Omar and her Minnesota predecessor, Keith Ellison — have a 13-year-old son together.

“The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” the court papers say.
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The Mynetts lived together for six years before marrying in 2012, the filing said.

Omar — a member of “the Squad,” a group of far left-leaning female freshman House members including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and two others — recently separated from her husband, according to reports.

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The 37-year-old congresswoman and mom of three paid Tim Mynett and his E. Street Group approximately $230,000 through her campaign since 2018 for fundraising consulting, digital communications, internet advertising and travel expenses.

Omar was spotted enjoying time with Tim Mynett at a California restaurant in March.

Beth Mynett is seeking primary physical custody of her and her husband’s son in part because of Tim Mynett’s “extensive travel” with Omar — which isn’t exactly part of his job description, the document says.

“Defendant’s more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than with his actual work commitments,” the court papers state.

Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar with her daughter
Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar with her daughterSplashNews.com
When he was home, “he was preoccupied and emotionally volatile,’’ Beth Mynett says of her estranged spouse. Meanwhile, the mom has been juggling “the vast majority of responsibilities related to [their son’s] school, medical care, and extracurricular activities,’’ the papers say.

The doctor argued that she doesn’t trust her husband’s judgment with their son anymore — in part because of his relationship with Omar.

“By way of example, days prior to Defendant’s devastating and shocking declaration of love for Rep. Omar and admission of their affair, he and Rep. Omar took the parties’ son to dinner to formally meet for the first time at the family’s favorite neighborhood restaurant while Plaintiff was out of town,” the papers state.

“Rep. Omar gave the parties’ son a gift and the Defendant later brought her back inside the family’s home,” the papers say.

Beth Mynett said in the filing that the most concerning thing about the excursion was her hubby’s decision to “put his son in harm’s way by taking him out in public with Rep. Omar, who at that time had garnered a plethora of media attention along with death threats, one rising to the level of arresting the known would-be assassin that same week.”

“Defendant met Rep. Omar while working for her,’’ the document states. “Although devastated by the betrayal and deceit that preceded his abrupt declaration, Plaintiff told Defendant that she loved him, and was willing to fight for the marriage.

“Defendant, however, told her that was not an option for him’’ and moved out the next day, the papers say.

“It is clear to Plaintiff that her marriage to Defendant is over and that there is no hope of reconciliation,’’ according to the filing.
Ilhan Omar stole my husband, DC mom claims in divorce papers
By Julia Marsh August 2
Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar
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Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar ZUMAPRESS.com
A Washington, DC, mom says her political-consultant husband left her for Rep. Ilhan Omar, according to a bombshell divorce filing obtained by The Post.

Dr. Beth Mynett says her cheating spouse, Tim Mynett, told her in April that he was having an affair with the Somali-born US representative — and that he even made a “shocking declaration of love” for the Minnesota congresswoman before he ditched his wife, alleges the filing, submitted in DC Superior Court on Tuesday.
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The physician, 55, and her 38-year-old husband — who has worked for left-wing Democrats such as Omar and her Minnesota predecessor, Keith Ellison — have a 13-year-old son together.

“The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” the court papers say.
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“Defendant met Rep. Omar while working for her,’’ the document states. “Although devastated by the betrayal and deceit that preceded his abrupt declaration, Plaintiff told Defendant that she loved him, and was willing to fight for the marriage.

“Defendant, however, told her that was not an option for him’’ and moved out the next day, the papers say.

“It is clear to Plaintiff that her marriage to Defendant is over and that there is no hope of reconciliation,’’ according to the filing.

SEE ALSO

Ilhan Omar should be probed over payments to ‘lover’: watchdog group
The Mynetts lived together for six years before marrying in 2012, the filing said.

Omar — a member of “the Squad,” a group of far left-leaning female freshman House members including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and two others — recently separated from her husband, according to reports.

The 37-year-old congresswoman and mom of three paid Tim Mynett and his E. Street Group approximately $230,000 through her campaign since 2018 for fundraising consulting, digital communications, internet advertising and travel expenses.

Omar was spotted enjoying time with Tim Mynett at a California restaurant in March.

Beth Mynett is seeking primary physical custody of her and her husband’s son in part because of Tim Mynett’s “extensive travel” with Omar — which isn’t exactly part of his job description, the document says.

“Defendant’s more recent travel and long work hours now appear to be more related to his affair with Rep. Omar than with his actual work commitments,” the court papers state.

Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar with her daughter
Tim Mynett and Ilhan Omar with her daughterSplashNews.com
When he was home, “he was preoccupied and emotionally volatile,’’ Beth Mynett says of her estranged spouse. Meanwhile, the mom has been juggling “the vast majority of responsibilities related to [their son’s] school, medical care, and extracurricular activities,’’ the papers say.

The doctor argued that she doesn’t trust her husband’s judgment with their son anymore — in part because of his relationship with Omar.

“By way of example, days prior to Defendant’s devastating and shocking declaration of love for Rep. Omar and admission of their affair, he and Rep. Omar took the parties’ son to dinner to formally meet for the first time at the family’s favorite neighborhood restaurant while Plaintiff was out of town,” the papers state.

“Rep. Omar gave the parties’ son a gift and the Defendant later brought her back inside the family’s home,” the papers say.

Beth Mynett said in the filing that the most concerning thing about the excursion was her hubby’s decision to “put his son in harm’s way by taking him out in public with Rep. Omar, who at that time had garnered a plethora of media attention along with death threats, one rising to the level of arresting the known would-be assassin that same week.”

Beth Mynett
Beth MynettCourtesy
The physician said her husband “has a history of emotional volatility, that can cause him to become easily angered and rageful,’’ according to the papers.

She added that she used her contacts to help him launch and grow his career and financially supported him along the way — only to have him “conveniently asserting after their separation that he is nearly broke, and his business is floundering,” the documents show.

Tim Mynett, using “bullying tactics,” has “begun threatening not to pay for his share of their joint financial responsibilities,” Beth Mynett says in the complaint.

She is seeking full control of the couple’s DC home, child support and legal fees, according to the filing.

Tim Mynett and Omar did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

Omar’s husband, Ahmed Hirsi, is a former banker who was hired as a senior policy aide to a Minnesota city councilwoman last year, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported at the time. Omar was previously married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi.

President Trump has repeated a claim that the union with Elmi was illegal immigration fraud because he is her brother and that they wed so he could obtain American citizenship. Omar called that allegation “absolutely false and ridiculous.”

Additional reporting by Nikki Schwab and Ben Feuerherd

Arranged and cooperated by
Shakir Essa
Digital media creator

Ilhan Omar: The Somali govt has condemned Kenya forces for destroying Hormud telecom

The Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Technology of the federal government of Somalia has strongly condemned the attack on Hormuud Telecommunication Company in Gedo region on 22, August 2019.
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Minister Eng Abdi Anshur Hassan said the attack has seriously damaged the premises and the equipment of the Hormuud company headquarters in Dawn, affecting the business and lives of the Somali people in Gedo region.

“We urge AMISOM to engage with the Somali government in the investigation of these repeated attacks and believe it is important to take appropriate action against this adversary who targets our economy and business per international law,” the Minister of Taxation said.
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The Ministry of Posts has forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a comprehensive archive of the loss of lives and properties as a result of the attacks on Somali telecommunications companies by the Kenya Defense Forces who are part of AMISOM mission in Somalia.

According to a statement of Hormuud indicate that it’s the 12th time in less than two years that the Kenyan forces have destroyed Hormuud Telecom’s base in Caws-Qurun village in Gedo region.

Digital media creator journalist

Shakir Essa

 

The 5 Principles of Journalism, ✔ check facts

The 5 Principles of Ethical Journalism
The core principles of ethical journalism set out below provide an excellent base for everyone who aspires to launch themselves into the public information sphere to show responsibility in how they use information.

There are hundreds of codes of conduct, charters and statements made by media and professional groups outlining the principles, values and obligations of the craft of journalism.

Most focus on five common themes:

Five Core Principles of Journalism
1. Truth and Accuracy
Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so.

2. Independence
Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.

3. Fairness and Impartiality
Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.

4. Humanity
Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.

5. Accountability
A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.

Does journalism need new guidelines?
EJN supporters do not believe that we need to add new rules to regulate journalists and their work in addition to the responsibilities outlined above, but we do support the creation of a legal and social framework, that encourages journalists to respect and follow the established values of their craft.

In doing so, journalists and traditional media, will put themselves in a position to be provide leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression. What is good for journalism is also good for others who use the Internet or online media for public communications.

Accountable Journalism
This collaborative project aims to be the world’s largest collection of ethical codes of conduct and press organisations.

The AccountableJournalism.org website has been developed as a resource to on global media ethics and regulation systems, and provides advice on ethical reporting and dealing with hate speech.

Journalist and data media publisher
Shakir Essa

Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince

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Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince
Published time: 28 Mar, 2018 11:58
Edited time: 18 Apr, 2018 15:56
Spread of Wahhabism was done at request of West during Cold War – Saudi crown prince
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. © Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters
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The Saudi-funded spread of Wahhabism began as a result of Western countries asking Riyadh to help counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Washington Post.
Speaking to the paper, bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s Western allies urged the country to invest in mosques and madrassas overseas during the Cold War, in an effort to prevent encroachment in Muslim countries by the Soviet Union.

Read more
3yrs of civilian deaths in Yemen don’t hold US & allies back from selling arms to Saudis – Amnesty 3yrs of civilian deaths in Yemen don’t hold US & allies back from selling arms to Saudis – Amnesty
He added that successive Saudi governments had lost track of that effort, saying “we have to get it all back.” Bin Salman also said that funding now comes mostly from Saudi-based “foundations,” rather than from the government.

The crown prince’s 75-minute interview with the Washington Post took place on March 22. Another topic of discussion included a previous claim by US media that bin Salman had said that he had White House senior adviser Jared Kushner “in his pocket.”

Bin Salman denied reports that when he and Kushner – who is also Donald Trump’s son-in-law – met in Riyadh in October, he had sought or received a greenlight from Kushner for the massive crackdown on alleged corruption which led to widespread arrests in the kingdom shortly afterwards. According to bin Salman, the arrests were a domestic issue and had been in the works for years.

He said it would be “really insane” for him to trade classified information with Kushner, or to try to use him to advance Saudi interests within the Trump administration. He stated that their relationship was within a normal governmental context, but did acknowledge that he and Kushner “work together as friends, more than partners.” He stated that he also had good relationships with Vice President Mike Pence and others within the White House.

The crown prince also spoke about the war in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition continues to launch a bombing campaign against Houthi rebels in an attempt to reinstate ousted Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi as president. The conflict has killed thousands, displaced many more, driven the country to the brink of famine, and led to a major cholera outbreak.

Although the coalition has been accused of a large number of civilian deaths and disregard for civilian lives – an accusation which Riyadh denies – the crown prince said his country has not passed up “any opportunity” to improve the humanitarian situation in the country. “There are not good options and bad options. The options are between bad and worse,” he said.

The interview with the crown prince was initially held off the record. However, the Saudi embassy later agreed to led the Washington Post publish specific portions of the meeting.

Reported by:Shakir Essa

ETHIOPIA TAKES LAND BACK FROM INVESTORS WHO PROMISED JOBS AND FAILED

Ethiopia
Ethiopia has revoked a total of 412.6 hectares of land held by investors, including Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi for failure to create jobs and develop the city, as promised when the lands were awarded to them, head of Addis Ababa Land Bank Tesfaye Tilahun told the Voice of America.

The investors had promised to create jobs for the youth and develop Addis Ababa by building industries, hotels, a media center and other complexes in the busy city which has over 4 million residents.

“All they did was make a fence around thousands square feet of land and left it for years. That is all they did. Instead of building the city, they gave the city a bad image, making it a place of waste collections,” said Tilahun, while explaining why 95 individuals and businesses lost their licenses.

Of the 412.6 hectares of land, 55 were associated with Mohammed International Development Research and Organization Companies (MIDROC), a private company that belongs to Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi. In 2005, MIDROC leased about 33,000 square feet of land in the heart of the capital, agreeing to build a city center there but only evicted locals and built a huge fence round the land.

Prior to the lease revocation, MIDROC has had a coarse relationship with Addis Ababa residents who have accused the company of polluting the environment and refusing job opportunities to locals, leading to a protest in the Oromia region of the capital because of the fear of losing their farmlands to MIDROC.

This week alone, 19 Ethiopian government agencies and 18 companies related to African diplomats or governments also had their licenses revoked.

For a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s

The third in a trio of federal cases brought by the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and

Samantar-Mohammed-Ali
Accountability (CJA) on behalf of victims and survivors of Siad Barre’s rule in Somalia will go to trial on May 13, almost 15 years after it was filed and more than 30 years since the events at issue took place. Plaintiff Farhan Warfaa brought this suit against defendant Colonel Yusef Abdi Ali (a.k.a. “Tukeh”) in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Ali has been living for more than two decades. Judge Leonie Brinkema and a jury to be selected next week will hear four days of evidence and argument from the parties, with a verdict expected on or after May 17. The three cases have provided unique opportunities for the plaintiffs to seek recognition for the harm they suffered decades ago, and represent an effort to ensure that foreign perpetrators of torture and other violations of international law do not find safe haven in the United States.
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Political and Legal Background

The current case arises from alleged violations of international law in Somalia under the Siad Barre regime, namely torture and attempted extrajudicial killing. Barre became Somalia’s president in 1969 after the assassination of then-President Abdirashid Ali Shermarke and a coup that overthrew the Somali Republic. With support from the Soviet Union, Barre led his revolutionary military junta to reconstitute the government; but Soviet support faltered after Barre invaded Ethiopia, another Soviet client, in 1977. The United States subsequently began to ingratiate itself with the Somali government, providing one of its largest military assistance programs in sub-Saharan Africa at the time. For the next decade, the Cold War powers vied for Barre’s allegiance.

But with his 1978 defeat in the Ogaden War in Ethiopia, Barre’s rule in Somalia grew increasingly tribalist and ruthless. He soon faced opposition in northeastern Somalia—a region overseen today by the Somaliland Administration—from the Somali National Movement (SNM), a militia group founded in response to Barre’s abuses against the clan that dominated that region. Colonel Tukeh, who had been trained in the U.S. and Soviet Union as well as Somalia, led the Army’s Fifth Brigade in a brutal crackdown against the SNM and the local population.

As Cold War tensions began to relax in the late 1980s, Somalia’s strategic importance diminished, changing the calculus of western donors who had watched Barre’s shift toward despotism with growing alarm. Earlier in the decade, Somalia had received $25-34 million annually in U.S. military aid alone, and by 1987 foreign aid represented more than half of the country’s GNP. But by 1989, the flow of foreign aid that had sustained Somalia since its independence virtually ceased.

Isolated and impoverished in its final years, Barre’s regime became dictatorial, repressive, and violent. His forces—including the Somali National Army and National Security Service (NSS)—detained, tortured, and murdered tens of thousands of his people. Court verdicts have found that former Somali Prime Minister and Minister of Defense General Mohammed Ali Samantar oversaw much of that mass killing and torture, as did Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, who headed the NSS Department of Investigations from 1988-90. And in the northeast, Tukeh directed the murder of thousands of civilians.

A coalition of many militia groups, including the SNM, and nonviolent political groups led the rebellion that ultimately toppled the Barre regime in 1991. Violence in the region has continued as members of Barre’s clan have faced backlash for the preferential treatment some received from his government.

Under the Barre regime and since its fall, it has been impossible for ordinary citizens to bring civil suits in Somalia/Somaliland for the human rights violations they suffered at the hands of government and military officials. Neither have there been criminal prosecutions seeking justice for Barre-era atrocities. Somalia has not ratified the Rome Statute to join the ICC, which in any event would not have retroactive jurisdiction over decades-past crimes. No international mechanism was established after Barre’s government fell to adjudicate its abuses. Until this trio of cases commenced in U.S. courts, there had been no legal action—in Somalia or elsewhere—seeking justice for the crimes of the Barre regime.

Seeking Justice in the United States

In 2004, CJA filed suit against General Samantar on behalf of three survivors of his policies — Bashe Yousuf, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid — and the estates of four of his victims, including Aziz Deria’s father and brother. The suit was filed in Virginia’s Eastern District, where Samantar had found safe haven in 1997. The plaintiffs in Yousuf v. Samantar described being abducted, confined, threatened, and tortured by soldiers under Samantar’s command. Their claims proceeded under the Torture Victim Protection Act (TVPA), which creates a cause of action against foreign officials who commit torture and/or extrajudicial killing.

Interlocutory appeals in Yousuf created two key legal precedents with respect to foreign sovereign/official acts immunity. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that individual foreign officials and their conduct are not shielded by the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act (FSIA). And in 2012, the Fourth Circuit held that there is no common law immunity for jus cogens violations — acts against the peremptory norms of international law — even when committed by foreign officials or agencies. Such grave violations are definitively beyond the scope of any official authority, even if carried out under the color of law or government endorsement, the court said. Samantar attempted to appeal this ruling, but the Supreme Court denied certiorari in 2014, while proceedings were ongoing in the Fourth Circuit, and again in 2015, ending Samantar’s effort “to claim that the torture and extrajudicial killing for which he admitted liability in U.S. court were official acts entitled to immunity.”

In February 2012, Samantar had stated in open court that he would not contest the plaintiffs’ action against him, accepting default liability for all violations they alleged. Judge Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia — the same judge who will hear Warfaa’s case next week — awarded each of the three surviving plaintiffs and four represented estates $1 million in compensatory damages and $2 million in punitive damages, for a total award of $21 million. This judgment represented the first time a court of law had held a Somali official accountable for human rights crimes under Barre. CJA advocated for Samantar’s removal from the U.S. until his death in August 2016; unfortunately, the plaintiffs were not able to recover the award granted by the court.

The second CJA case involved Colonel Abdi Aden Magan, whose NSS forces had arrested Abukar Hassan Ahmed, a professor of constitutional law at Somali National University, in 1988. Ahmed was an outspoken human rights advocate and critic of the Barre regime. Magan’s NSS detained, starved, and tortured Ahmed for months, accusing him of supporting opposition groups and writing for Amnesty International. Ahmed was shackled in his cell in an excruciating position day and night for three months.

Tracking His Torturer

After a 30-minute internet search in 2005, Ahmed discovered that Magan, the man responsible for his torture and arbitrary detention, was living freely in Columbus, Ohio. CJA filed suit on Professor Ahmed’s behalf against Magan in 2010. In Nov. 2012 a federal judge in the Southern District of Ohio found Magan liable for arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, and torture. “The court’s decision today is of great consequence not only for me but also for the many other Somalis who were tortured or even killed by NSS officers,” Ahmed reflected after the judgment in Ahmed v. Magan. “In order for Somalia to heal after 20 years of military rule, it is essential to confront and hold accountable individuals like Colonel Magan.”

Based on this judgment, a federal magistrate judge awarded Ahmed $5 million in compensatory and $10 million in punitive damages in August 2013. At the hearing to assess damages, Ahmed explained that he wanted justice not only for himself, but for the silent victims of torture around the world. “That’s why I want to come to the United States to have the justice that I couldn’t have in my country,” he said.

Magan had fled, apparently to Kenya, while Ahmed’s suit against him was pending. Even if Magan had assets worth $15 million, Ahmed would not be able to enforce the American judgment in Kenya without a separate proceeding before a Kenyan court. Still, the Southern District’s decision marked the first time a member of the NSS had been held liable in court for violations committed under the Barre regime.

Ahmed became legal adviser to the president of Somalia in 2011, assisting the drafting of the new Somali Constitution and Human Rights Bill. He has also resumed teaching law at the City University of Mogadishu, and in October 2013, he received the International Bar Association Human Rights Award.

“The dictators and their thugs think that justice has geographical limitations, but justice is universal. . . . It belongs to all humanity,” Ahmed said when accepting the award in Boston. “[M]y victory before the Ohio Court is not just for me, but for all the silent victims of torture—alive or dead.”

Abducted as a Teenager

In the suit that will go to trial Monday, Farhan Warfaa alleges that he was abducted as a teenager in 1987 by Tukeh’s soldiers, who claimed he was responsible for the disappearance of an Army water tanker. Warfaa says he was taken to the Army’s regional headquarters, where he was confined, interrogated, and tortured for months, including by Tukeh himself.

Warfaa’s complaint alleges that his “arms and legs were bound, he was stripped naked, and he was beaten to the point of unconsciousness at least nine times.” One night in March 1988, while Tukeh allegedly was interrogating Warfaa in his office, the SNM attacked the Fifth Brigade. Warfaa says that Tukeh ordered his officers to capture or kill the SNM soldiers, then shot Warfaa five times at point-blank range and left him for dead. The officers ordered to bury Warfaa soon discovered that he was still alive, however, and allegedly ransomed him back to his family. It is possible that Tukeh did not know Warfaa had survived until the CJA lawsuit was filed.

At trial in Virginia next week, Warfaa will be seeking justice for the torture and attempted extrajudicial killing he alleges Tukeh commanded and committed. The precedent from Yousuf means that Tukeh cannot claim official acts immunity for the violations alleged by Warfaa. “Because [Warfaa’s] TVPA claims are premised on alleged acts that violate jus cogens norms,”—here, the international consensus against torture and extrajudicial killing—“the act of state doctrine is inapplicable,” wrote Judge Brinkema in her July 2014 opinion denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss Warfaa’s TVPA claims.

With Barre’s commanders having found refuge in the United States and Somalia’s government still struggling for stability, civil suits before American courts are these plaintiffs’ only legal recourse to pursue justice for the harm they suffered. For Bashe Yousuf, Aziz Deria, Buralle Mohamoud, Ahmed Gulaid, Abukar Hassan Ahmed, and Farhan Warfaa, federal judges half a world away are singularly able to acknowledge their suffering, endorse an authoritative record of the injuries they survived, and confirm the responsibility of their persecutors.

(As a member of Stanford Law’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic, the author was invited by CJA to conduct independent legal monitoring of the Warfaa v. Ali trial. The views expressed here are her own and not those of the Clinic, Stanford University, or CJA

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2 Canadian women freed from Somaliland prison say they endured extreme abuse Maymona Abdi, 28, and Karima Watts, 24, arrested in January, released in April

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Two Canadian women freed from a prison in Somaliland say they endured extreme abuse “bordering on torture” while they were detained for two months overseas.
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Maymona Abdi, 28, and Karima Watts, 24, originally from Ottawa, arrived at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Sunday. They were arrested by police on Jan. 19 for allegedly drinking alcohol in the Somaliland city of Hargeisa. They were held without trial and released on April 23.
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Consuming alcohol is illegal in Somaliland, a self-declared republic still internationally considered to be part of Somalia. The women disputed the charge, but were detained at the Koodbuur Station Women’s Prison in Hargeisa.
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Canadian women released from jail in Somaliland
“I feel a lot of relief. It’s been really hard,” Abdi told reporters at the airport shortly after their arrival. “I’m super tired and anxious.”
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Maymona Abdi
Maymona Abdi spent more than two months in jail in Somaliland (CBC)
Abdi said she thinks they were released because of media coverage of their plight. She said Canadian consular officials did not help them as much as they needed.

According to their lawyer, Mubarik Mohamoud Abdi, the women signed confessions under duress, hoping to avoid being detained. They were sentenced to 2½ months in jail and 40 lashes. He said the prosecution in the case did not prove before the court that the women drank alcohol.
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‘Name a place where it isn’t dangerous to be us’
In a prepared statement that she read aloud, Abdi said people have asked them why they went somewhere as dangerous as Somaliland. She said the two felt an obligation to help women facing violence.

“Name a place where it isn’t dangerous to be us. Where is it safe to be a woman? In reality, it is women on the ground, who look like us, who are sacrificing everything.”

Her family retains property in Somaliland, according to Abdi’s mother Fahima Hassan.
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According to Jason Jeremias, a human rights activist based in New York City, Abdi was working to intervene in the protection of women at extreme risk of gender-based violence, but they did not go as official representatives of a non-governmental organization.

Karima Watts
Karima Watts stands in Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Sunday. (CBC)
Abdi said she and Watts were subjected to extreme emotional and psychological abuse as well as “physical retaliation” in prison. She said they were denied medical aid, legal counsel and, at times, food and water.

According to international human rights conventions, that denial constitutes torture, she said.

“We burdened our struggle in silence,” she said. “For two months, while we were being detained, the world had no clue where we were and what we were being subjected to.”

Silence enables violence, she added. “We will stand up for each other as women wherever we face violence,” she said.

Jeremias, who is connected to the organization the Price of Silence, spoke up on their behalf, drawing attention to their case, she said.

Don’t give up fight for human rights, she says
Abdi, whose sister is in Toronto, said she plans to go to the hospital to be assessed. She said they also have to decide where they are going to live.

She added she would like Canadians not to give up the fight for human rights and to remember many people around the world are suffering in silence.
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“I want them to know, there’s people out there that go through things but nobody really knows,” she said. “Be aware of it. Open your eyes.”

Maymona Abdi and Karima Watts
Watts, left, and Abdi take a break after Abdi spoke to the media in Toronto. (CBC)
Shirley Gillett, project co-ordinator of I Do! Project in Toronto, said she believes the charge of consuming alcohol was trumped up. The project works with survivors of forced marriage and those at risk of forced marriage.
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Gillett said Abdi, who lived in Vancouver before heading overseas, has done work with the project. She said Abdi contacted her after she had arrived in Somaliland.

“They’ve been through a lot of stress. They’re exhausted as well. They were living in conditions that were deplorable, to say the least,” Gillett said.

“We’re just relieved that they’re home. We’re just looking to getting them to good health, supporting them in any way they can.”

Avoid all travel to Somalia, Ottawa says
In a statement earlier, Hassan had said: “Maymona and Karima were born and grew up in Ottawa, Canada, as best friends. When Karima’s mother died, she became our daughter.”

Canadians are urged to avoid all travel to Somalia, according to the Canadian government in a travel advisory that was last updated on April 25.
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“If you are currently in Somalia despite this advisory, you should leave immediately,” the travel advisory reads.

“The security situation in Somalia is extremely volatile and the threat of domestic terrorism is high, particularly in south-central Somalia and in the capital, Mogadishu.”
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Shirley Gillett
Shirley Gillett, project co-ordinator of the I Do! Project in Toronto, says she believes the charges were trumped up. (CBC)

Reporter: Shakir Essa