– The joint military operations involving the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali National Army forces will be conducted in compliance with international human rights law.
The operations will also tackle the recruitment and use of child soldiers by Al-Shabaab and other militant groups operating in Somalia, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira said yesterday.
“As we continue working hard to implement the Somalia Transition Plan and the AMISOM CONOPs (Concept of Operations), we must bear in mind that respect for human rights and prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers is extremely crucial in achieving our goals,” Ambassador Francisco Madeira said during the closing of a five-day workshop for Somali security officers in Mogadishu.
The objective of the workshop, organized by AMISOM with the support of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiatives (RDCSI), was to enhance security officers’ compliance with International Human Rights and Humanitarian Laws.
Ambassador Madeira noted that capacitating Somali security forces, especially through training, is critical to the implementation of the Somalia Transition Plan, whose key objective is help Somalis take charge of their country.
“The AMISOM Concept of Operations 2018-2021 and the AMISOM Mission Implementation Plan, place particular emphasis on the need to ensure that Somali security forces are adequately trained and resourced to take over the security responsibilities from AMISOM,” the SRCC observed.
Ambassador Madeira reminded the participants of the critical role they play in the promotion and respect for human rights and the prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers.
According to the 2018 UN Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict, recruitment of children by Al-Shabaab increased significantly, due to the use of threats, violence and abductions by the militants. Abductions also increased sharply with 98 percent of the cases attributed to Al-Shabaab.
The Director General in the Federal Ministry of Defence, Warsame Mohamed Hassan, reiterated the commitment of the federal government to protecting the rights of the citizens and preventing recruitment and use of child soldiers.
On his part, Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (RDCSI) Regional Training Manager for Africa, Musa Donald Gbow, said RDCSI is committed to the progressive eradication of recruitment and use of child soldiers, which remains a major challenge globally.
“We hope that you will use the knowledge you have acquired to educate your colleagues on the importance of protecting and respecting human rights,” Mr. Gbow told the participants drawn from the Somali National Army (SNA), Somali Police Force (SPF), National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) and line ministries from federal and state governments.
The Director of Social Affairs in the Federal Ministry of Internal Security, Idris Mohamed Ahmed, said the ministry has designated a unit to deal with violations of human rights and prevention of recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Unlike the past, the training was conducted by Somali trainers, trained by AMISOM on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
The participants were taken through a number of topics including an overview of human rights, international humanitarian law, global and regional human rights frameworks, the Somali constitution and human rights and juvenile justice in Somalia.
Other topics included Somali culture and Islam, gender and women’s rights, children’s rights, sexual and gender-based violence and use of child soldiers.
Ayanle Yussuf Mohamed, a participant from Galmudug, thanked AMISOM for organizing the training, and pledged that the knowledge gained would be used to protect the rights of children.
His colleague, Kouthar Osman Salad, from Puntland, said she will work extra hard to protect the rights of children.