Somalia has adequate expertise to tackle conflict-related crimes, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) recently launched an intensive training programme on sexual violence for security officers in the federal member states.
This week, 30 officers drawn from police, intelligence, military, and gender office, concluded a four-day training programme in Jubbaland State on reporting, investigating and prosecuting conflict-related sexual violence cases.
Conflict-related sexual violence cases are still high in Somalia, with the main perpetrators being members of illegal armed groups among them Al-Shabaab and its affiliates.
Speaking at the training session, AMISOM Protection Officer, Gloria Jaase Nkundanyirazo, called for concerted efforts to combat the vice, which she noted, targeted women and children.
“We want security personnel to be role models and advocate for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and also push for laws that protect women and children in conflict and post-conflict situations,” said Ms. Nkundanyirazo.
The officer stressed the importance of strengthening the capacity of national institutions to ensure accountability for past crimes and deterring future offenses.
Her sentiments were echoed by Inspector Bernard Azagiszaba, AMISOM Community Policing Advisor, who urged Somali national security officers to work closely with residents in addressing sexual violence cases.
“By the end of this session, they (Somali national security officers) should be able to go back into their communities and educate their community members that conflict-related sexual violence is a bad practice and should not be encouraged in our societies. It is a war crime,” said Inspector Azagisnaba.
Nadifa Sheikh Omar, a Gender Advisor to the President of Somalia, said Islam abhors any form of violence, adding that the perpetrators of sexual violence should be shunned by all peace-loving Muslims.
“We have discussed many topics including the view of Islam on violence and what the Islamic teachings say about violence against mankind. They (Somali national security forces) were able to grasp the concepts of the training based on the teachings of Islam and not a western ideology imposed on them,” noted Ms. Omar.
One of the participants, Omar Abdulkadir Abdi, a Jubbaland security officer, thanked AMISOM for organizing the training, saying the knowledge gained will be applied to protect women, children and other vulnerable groups from war crimes.
“I am very happy to have participated in this course because it is about the prevention of sexual violence against women particularly in areas of conflict. We may be deployed to new areas anytime hence we shall be able to practice how to guard against such acts,” said Mr. Abdi.
The officers were urged to be role models in their communities and always maintain high discipline standards when dealing with civilians in their areas of operation.
“We want them (Somali national security officers) to be good role models and to not only advocate for the victims of conflict-related sexual violence but also push for laws that protect women and children against sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations,” said Ms. Nkundanyirazo.
The training program will also be held in other federal states as AMISOM continues to transfer security responsibility to Somali national security forces.