Target: Special Representative on Somalia, James Swan
Goal: Demand a retrial for woman jailed for accusing Somalian security forces of raping her
A woman raped by Somalian security forces was jailed for one year for speaking out, as was a journalist who interviewed her. They were charged with “fabricating a story to hurt the government, and insulting state institutions.” The woman claims that she was raped by security forces in 2012, and then shared her story with a journalist. Although he did not publish the story, he was also charged with deliberately attempting to insult the government.
During the hearing, the judge refused to let three witnesses testify who were going to defend the woman, and he then claimed that the woman’s sentence was based on medical evidence proving that she was not raped. The woman’s husband was also charged with fabrication charges, and also charged with fabrications in an attempt to increase his personal fame. He was acquitted, but still publicly humiliated.
It is believed that this case was politically motivated, and an attempt to cover up the frequent cases of sexual abuse committed by Somalian security forces. After seeing the results of one woman attempting to speak out, other women will now be too afraid to report abuses. The Somalian government has most likely succeeded in silencing women who might have otherwise come forward to demand justice. Demand that the woman receive a re-trial so that Somalian women won’t have to fear testifying in court.
Dear Representative Swan,
No person should ever have to be afraid of the consequences of reporting a crime committed against them, and this certainly applies to the woman sentenced to a year in jail for accusing security forces of raping her. The situation violates major human rights: free speech, free press, and the ability to report a crime. Somalian society has become less safe because of the judge’s ruling, and also because of the charges levied against the woman’s husband and the journalist who interviewed her.
There have been many reports of Somalian security forces committing sexual abuses, especially in refugee camps, and that major issue cannot be resolved if no one is able to speak out when they know of a crime. The legal system must work to protect the Somalian citizens, instead of those in charge. If this Somalian woman is granted a re-trial, she will hopefully face a less-biased judge, and receive a new sentence. If this happens, other people will be able to speak out, and the abuses can be brought to a halt. It is imperative that this woman receives a retrial, so that others in her situation can feel safe when they speak out against those who have harmed them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: P. Heinlein