SOMALIA: Sexual Abuse by African Union Soldiers

Originally published on Human Rights Watch on September 8, 2014—
“Soldiers from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have sexually abused and exploited vulnerable Somali women and girls on their bases in Mogadishu, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Troop-contributing countries, the African Union (AU), and donors to AMISOM should urgently address these abuses and strengthen procedures inside Somalia to seek justice.

The 71-page report, “‘The Power These Men Have Over Us’: Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by African Union Forces in Somalia,” documents the sexual exploitation and abuse of Somali women and girls on two AMISOM bases in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, since 2013. The AU soldiers, relying on Somali intermediaries, have used a range of tactics, including humanitarian aid, to coerce vulnerable women and girls into sexual activity. They have also raped or otherwise sexually assaulted women who were seeking medical assistance or water at AMISOM bases. Human Rights Watch interviewed 21 women and girls who described being raped or sexually exploited by Ugandan or Burundian military personnel serving with the AU forces.

“Some African Union soldiers have misused their positions of power to exploit Somalia’s most vulnerable women and girls,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Somalia has many intractable problems, but the Somali and AU leadership could end sexual exploitation and abuse by pressing troop-sending countries to hold abusers responsible.”

The AU and AMISOM should foster an organizational culture of “zero tolerance” of unlawful activities on their bases, Human Rights Watch said. They should establish or strengthen instruments and bodies that have responsibility for addressing these abuses, such as conduct and discipline units, and an independent investigative body at the AU level.”

For the rest of the original article, please click here

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