Hargeisa — The government of the self-declared republic of Somaliland will stiffen penalties for human trafficking to stem illegal migration, particularly by the region’s youths.
“Of course there is an article in Somaliland’s penal code dealing with this issue, but we think it is not deterrent enough. For this reason, the government plans to pass new laws to prevent human smuggling,” Mohamed Osman Dube, Somaliland’s administrative director in the interior ministry, told IRIN.
At present, Article 457 of Somaliland’s penal code identifies the selling and purchasing of humans as slaves as offences punishable by prison terms of 3 to 12 years. Article 466 further provides for a three-year prison term for those found guilty of engaging in physical abuse, according to Mustafe Mahdi, a Somaliland lawyer.
The new laws are aimed at reducing irregular migration from Somaliland to Ethiopia and onwards to Sudan, Libya and Europe. When passed, they are expected to include tougher punishments for smugglers and to provide ways to rehabilitate youth migrants, added Dube.
While solid figures on human trafficking in Somaliland are not available, in late June, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) nominated a ministerial committee to address the problem, expressing concern over growing youth mass migration and related deaths.
According to a recent survey by the community-based Somaliland Youth Ambition Development Group (SYADG), for example, at least 15 Somaliland youths died in May in the Sahara desert, between Libya and Sudan, either from being shot dead by smugglers or due to the harsh conditions.
The 15 were part of a group of 325 youths, from which 31 are still missing, with 83 and 80 others in Libyan and Tunisian prisons, respectively, according to SYADG spokesperson Ahmed Jamal.
Most of the youths migrating from Somaliland have been from poorer families, but those from better-off families are increasingly risking the perilous journey to Europe.
“When I was looking for my son, I received a phone call from a stranger asking me to speak my son. The stranger told me to pay him US$5,000 in smuggling fees. I said, ‘I will look for the money’, but unfortunately, my son was shot dead,” Mohamed Da’ud, the director of planning in Somaliland’s interior ministry, told IRIN.
Somalia: Marginalised Clan Seeks Political Rights in Somaliland Region
Hargeisa — The Gaboye clan in the Somaliland region is taking steps to achieve greater political rights after facing years of political, social and economic marginalisation through tribal-based discrimination.
A 16-member independent committee of traditional leaders, religious scholars and Gaboye clansmen on June 29th ended a month-long survey of Somaliland’s six regions to gather facts on discrimination.
“Because the clan has been missing from the Somaliland National Assembly for 21 years, and it has become aware of the barriers preventing it from taking part in politics [… ] a decision was made to create awareness and educate people,” said Barkhad Jama Hirsi, minority affairs adviser to the regional president.
“When no one [from the clan] succeeded in the [November 2012] municipal elections, it was determined that there is internal disorganisation and conflict,” said Hirsi, a Gaboye clansmen and member of the committee. “Therefore it became inevitable to look for a solution to the problem.”
During its survey the committee created a development sub-committee to work for the clan’s interests throughout the Somaliland region, Hirsi said.
A conference in Hargeisa will take place on a yet-to-be-determined date to share and discuss the findings from the committee’s survey, according to Gaboye elders spokesperson Sultan Mohamed Muse Abu Sufyan.
The meeting will bring together members of the Gaboye clan, including traditional elders, members from the diaspora, intellectuals and youth, he said.
“It is a group that is isolated from the rest of the society, and discrimination has resulted in not dealing with them or mixing with them,” Abu Sufyan told Sabahi.
“When it comes to work, our people are confined to work in jobs that other people do not take,” he said. “They are also isolated in residence. For example, in Hargeisa they live in a separate neighbourhood called Daami.”
The Gaboye clan also does not intermarry with people from other clans.
Abu Sufyan has four wives, all of whom are Gaboye. “If I had the opportunity, some of them could have been from other clans, but that is not possible for us at this time,” he said.