The African Union Commission has rejected allegations of human rights violations by AMISOM troops contained in a report launched by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) Human Rights and Protection Group (HRPG) and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The Commission has noted with concern that the report entitled “Protection of Civilians: Building the Foundation for Peace, Security and Human Rights in Somalia”, contains “significant misrepresentations” of certain incidents pertaining to AMISOM operations in Somalia.
It stated that the UN report ignored conclusive investigations carried out by the AU Mission’s internal investigative organs, such as the Board of Inquiry (BoI), without presenting any hard evidence to substantiate the report’s conclusions, and this, despite the offer by AMISOM to provide the required security for the UN to undertake its own independent investigation.
The African Union Commission wishes to clarify that AMISOM troops were exonerated in the Ceelbuur incident of 7 May 2016 and the Bulo-Burto incident of April 2016, after investigations provided no evidence of human rights violations by AMISOM troops. These cases are, unfortunately, mentioned in the report as factual cases of rape, perpetrated by the AU peacekeepers.
The commission further clarifies that investigations into the Garastan incident of 18 June 2017 are still ongoing and have not been concluded, and expresses concern that details of a not yet concluded investigation has been used to corroborate the report’s findings. Despite the thorough nature of the AMISOM BOI investigation and the fact that its findings were transmitted to the Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the report, ignoring these facts, proceeded to treat the Elbur (Ceelbuur) incident as a conclusively proven allegation against AMISOM.
The report, which accuses AMISOM troops of killing and maiming 178-civilians in the period between January 2016 and 14 October 2017, fails to provide any iota of evidence to support these allegations.
The African Union Commission observes that this is not in line with the spirit that has been presiding over the constructive relationship between AMISOM and UNSOM-UNSOS Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP) Working Group.