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Evidences of police brutality and excessive force





Grievances Against Bosaso Police Misconduct *


Roobdoon Forum

September 28, 2005


As we are talking now, someone, somewhere in an African country is being thrown into prison cell, being beaten up, tortured or being interrogated on trumped up charges.  Hundreds more up and down the continent are being subjected to other forms of inhuman treatment in the hands of the police, army or secret police [1].


Comment made by a member of an NGO at the eleventh session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) held in Tunis, Tunisia.


Sheekh Aduun, director of the Bossasso radio affiliate of the private STN network, and Awale Jama, an editor at the station, were freed yesterday without charge, according to STN director Omar Nur Guutale in Mogadishu. They had been jailed since June 30 in connection with the station's reporting on the mayoral campaign in Bossasso, according to local sources [2].


                                      Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Press Release,

                                                                                          New York, July 13, 2005.


Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of human Rights states that “[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment [3].”


When decisions are made to protect the public, strategies (i.e. means to an end) are consciously or unconsciously employed.  In the case of policing and handling the safety of the public, the end is the improvement of the security force’s capability to accomplish its goals.  The selection of the strategy generally involves the establishment of a series of ends, means and priorities.


We know that policing is a complicated issue, by the fact that Somalia is in the midst of civil wars, and sometimes the police itself produces conflict or pursues ambitious goals that cannot be attained.  However, there are two objectives which all security related institutions serve:


The first objective is the maintenance of law and order – handling disputes, a family quarrel, and a street disturbance by teenagers etc.  The second objective is law enforcement – the use of legal sanctions, usually by means of arrest, to individuals who harm/threaten or deprive innocent victims.


Nevertheless, Bosaso Regional State Security Forces have lately known not to perform their tasks satisfactorily.  Numerous Puntland media have recently directed criticism at the police.  All of their criticisms are well known and often valid, but Puntland administration is frequently ignoring the conditions that are giving rise to these criticisms.  The Administration, for example, is frequently charged for hiring unqualified policemen who suppress or manipulate crime reports and more importantly use improper or illegal procedures, including torturing detainees.  The answer to why all these criticisms are true to some extent lies to two explanations: Torture seen as a social control mode; and what we call “Duur-joog” theme – both is complementing each other.


Afflictions in Detention Centers


To control masses that have been bad-administered is not an easy task.  As scholar Matthew Lippman observes, “The major function of torture today is its use by many regimes lacking popular support who desire to inculcate a climate of fear and political apathy in the general population [4].” In addition, “Torture may also be used to incapacitate an individual psychologically or physically and thereby render the individual politically ineffective [5].”


Torture is universally and unanimously condemned in Puntland Constitution and human convention.  Yet, it is still mostly definitely practiced in Puntland detention centers.  Although Puntland officials continue to condemn all forms of torture publicly, their deep conviction of human rights does not support their strong language.  Many ex-prisoners of Bosaso detention centers (see below) charge against prison soldiers of dereliction of duties, cruelty, assault, indecent acts, and maltreatment.


In fact, these officials sometimes justify some of the torturing procedures and contend that killing is worse than torture – reminding their subjects that killing is rampant in other parts of Somalia (i.e. Mogadishu environs).  They also insist that torture is permitted when the situation is out of control – i.e. when the situation consists of “war” between the central authority and its so-called enemies.


Duur-joog (bad-recruits)


Although explanations vary, the variations of bad-policing theme in Bosaso can be summed up as “Duur-joog” who find their way into the police work through nepotism, and clan-affiliation.  “Duur-joog” refers here to un-qualified, unintelligent, clan-oriented, rude, brutal, intolerant, or insensitive men.  “Duur-joog” recruits enjoy expressing their prejudices and crudeness in the name of the law. Not only do “Duur-joog” fail to do the right thing/prevent crime, they systematically take pleasure in to do the wrong thing/actually cause crime [6]“Duur-joog” is just one expression of the growing concern over the problem of policing procedure which has recently accompanied the tremendous widespread abuses in Bossaaso detention centers.


Bossaaso Detention Centers


When an individual is arrested, he/she is held for trial in what is known as police cell, a jail, a detention center, etc.  These centers generally serve a double purpose: to keep those who are waiting trial, and those serving sentences for minor offences.  To mention a few about the minimum standard requirements, police cells should have good ventilation, proper food, cleanliness, protection from infectious disease, and access to counsel and family/friends.  On the contrary, there are extremely serious allegations against Puntland detention centers and its prison guards; and it can’t just be ignored.  The forum therefore proposes that an independent judicial commission of inquiry should be appointed, to investigate Bossaaso detention centers.  Such investigation would help find out what is happening to the detainees.  Those “Duur-joog” recruits who are responsible for such misconduct must be weeded out of the security forces as a matter of urgency.  The liability should not end with the recruits involved in the abuse incidents; but the politicians and high-ranking officials who authorized such acts are equally liable.


Local Media


In Puntland, local news-reporting is a costly and risky enterprise used by local internet websites, newspapers, and local radio broadcasters.  There had been a worrying avoidance of covering police misconduct by the local media, especially Bossaaso-based media.  The Roobdoon observers who are studying Somali mass media and its influence on the issues that is sensitive and noticeable before the public have discovered the lack of freedom of expression in Puntland Regional State.  Admittedly, only lately we, the Forum, have examined the means of coercion employed by the “Duur-joog” recruits in maintaining authority and in furthering the political and economic interests of the ruling junta. 


Unfortunately, the “Duur-joog” recruits in Bosaso have been much less studied than the “Mooryaans” in Muqdisho – although we know now that it would be rash to assume that they were less important.  The high visibility (via Somali websites) of public reaction against Puntland security forces has indicated the impression that public attitudes are predominantly negative.  This shared understanding can have self-fulfilling consequences.  In the case of Bosaso district for example, since the “Duur-joog” recruits often view locals as holding more hostile attitudes towards them, they often take a more authoritarian attitude in order to assure that actions will be seen as legitimate.  Hence, instances of “Duur-joog” brutality occur and are covered by the media.


A Journalist’s comments on Human Rights Abuses in Bosaso Prison


Waxaa in la xuso mudan xili aan ku xirnaa Xabsiga Magaalada Bosaso in aan la sheekaystay maxaabiis gaaraysa 120 maxbuus oo iyagoon wax maxkamad ah aan la soo marin lagu xiray xabsiga Bosaso.

Danbiyo kala duwan oo aan jirin islamarkaasna qof bini'aadam ah aan loo qaban ayay maxaabiistaasi ku xiranyihiin mudo sanado ah iyo Bilo markii aad weydiisana waxay kuu sheegayaan ina ay yihiin(rumaan) ama maxkamed suge oo sharcigiisu yahay in uu xabsiga ku xirnaado 45 casho.

Xiligii aan maxaabiistaasi wada joognay oo ay ogaadeen in aan ka mid ahay saxaafadda waxay intooda badan igula dardaarmeen in aan tacadiyada haysta dadka u soo bandhigo.

Waxaa dhibaatooyinka haysta ka mid ah cunto xumo, daawo la’aan, iyo qaarkood oo qaba cudurada faafa sida TB-da, Malaria, Cholera, iyo waliba aneebiya ama dhiig la’aanta oo dhammaantood ay la ildaran yihiin [7].  


For few days, he has been detained in Bossaaso detention center.  During his detention period, he met local political leaders, traders, and criminals with minor offences under dire condition.  And to all, he posted on the internet and wired a message to concerned advocacy groups about the plight of the prisoners in Bosaso.


His name is Cawaale Jaamac Salaad.  He is a journalist from Bosaso based website: www.biyokulule.com.  He is a social activist who decided on his own will to “report” the above grievances and message from the detainees, with the knowledge and support of his Bosaso community.  Mindful of the political reality of his constituency, Cawaale Jaamac firmly believes in freedom of expression.   In his opinion, he, neither creating nor supporting any political party, would unconditionally defend the supporters of human rights.  His work is “highly regarded” by the Roobdoon Forum.  An admirer of Cawaale Jaamac, the Roobdoon Forum, was disturbed lately over the news that he was harassed and arrested for days without being found him guilty.  Outspoken in our affirmations on human rights, we, the forum, clarify our position on the current Puntland Administration:  “the Administration is an assault against human rights, the dignity of the human being, and God.  In Bosaso detention centers, human rights are continuously violated by the security forces.”


Roobdoon Forum

Toronto, Canada



[*] This article was originally posted on Biyokulule Online in September 28, 2005.


[1] Brian Moyo, “Visions of Brutality,” West Africa, 30 March-5 April (1992):542.


[2] Committee to Protect Journalist, “Two Puntland Journalists Freed, But Harassment Continues,” Press Release (New York, July 13, 2005).  http://allafrica.com/stories/200507140633.html. 


[3] See also International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 7; U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Article 31.


[4] Matthew Lippman, “The Protection of Universal Human Rights: The problem of torture,” Universal Human Rights, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Oct., 1979): pp. 30.


[5] Matthew Lippman, “The Protection of Universal Human Rights: The problem of torture,” Universal Human Rights, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Oct., 1979): pp.29-30.


[6] See various Somali websites on police misconduct in Bossaaso in September 03, 2005:

   http://www.radiosanaag.com/almukaram.htm ; http://www.dhahar.com/news/0309205.html


[7] See Biyokulule news, July17, 2005: http://www.biyokulule.com/taaran.htm.




Bosaso: Artillery men in action



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