Somalia. Call for justice as four children are sentenced to death for their involvement in armed groups

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Save the Children has called on Somali authorities to intervene after six teenagers were convicted by a military court of involvement in armed groups, four of whom were sentenced to death.

The teenagers were arrested in October 2020 in Galkayo, in the Mudug region of Puntland State in Somalia, for their alleged involvement in armed groups. Four of the boys were 15 at the time of the arrest.

A military court sitting in Galkayo, Somalia, on January 31 handed down death sentences to four of the teenagers, aged between 16 and 18, while the other two, aged 16, were sentenced to 30 and 20 respectively. years in prison.

The sentence violates the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Somalia ratified in 2015, which codifies Somalia’s commitments to protect children’s rights to life and survival, and grants them appropriate legal protection.

Save the Children’s Country Director for Somalia, Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, said:

“We are deeply concerned about these convictions. Sentencing teenagers to death and long terms of imprisonment – ​​regardless of their crime – has no deterrent effect and is certainly not in line with the global standards that Somalia has accepted. These boys deserve a chance at rehabilitation, and we urge the government to ensure justice.

“We urge the government of Puntland to strengthen the enforcement and implementation of the Puntland Juvenile Justice Act, to protect and treat all children under the age of 18 in accordance with human rights standards. ‘child.

“Throughout Somalia, children must be protected from recruitment and use by armed groups. The experience of being associated with an armed force or group can have immediate and lasting impact and consequences for boys and girls, including exploitation and abuse, physical injury or disability. They should be protected, not punished.

Save the Children works across Somalia to support the government and community to uphold children’s rights to survive, learn and be protected. The Federal Government of Somalia and its member states should ensure child-friendly legal procedures for any child accused of a crime. These should involve ensuring adequate legal representation and implementing principles of justice for children that aim at the diversion, rehabilitation and reintegration of the child into their family and community.

Save the Children welcomes the Puntland government’s progress towards full implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act. Save the Children affirms its commitment to continued collaboration and support from the Puntland government to improve child protection.

These sentences come days before the 20th anniversary of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), which prohibits the participation of children under the age of 18 in hostilities . The day it came into effect, February 12, 2002, is commemorated annually as “Red Hand Day” to raise awareness of the recruitment and use of children.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Save the Children.

This press release was issued by APO. Content is not vetted by the African Business editorial team and none of the content has been verified or validated by our editorial teams, proofreaders or fact checkers. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.

Elna M. Lemons