UNSOM starts training Somali National Army in human rights

12 Feb 2014

UNSOM starts training Somali National Army in human rights

Mogadishu, 12 February 2014 – At the Jazeera camp, the biggest military training facility in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, things get started very early in the morning.

The new recruits of the Somali National Army (SNA) start their hard physical training at 4.30am. The hours pass with runs, drills, exercises, weapons management and administration. However, around 9am their Commander gives them the order to stop the pushups and grab a chair. Immediately, some 160 men and one woman run to compete to get the best seat closest to the screen. Some of them take a notepad and a pen, too. It is time to focus on the class.

Today's training is on human rights principles, part of a two-day module that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) is delivering to the Somali National Army.

It is the first time that UNSOM has engaged in human rights training for the Somali military since the Security Council mandated the UN in Somalia (in resolution 2124) to provide assistance and advice to the Somali security forces in accordance with the UN’s Human Rights and Due Diligence Policy.

UNSOM Human Rights officer Muna Abuagla explains to the new recruits the compatibility between human rights and shari'a law. Her students are hooked and ready for a lively discussion on how human rights principles relate to their culture and religion.

“There are many misconceptions, misinterpretations and confusion between duties of the army, cultural and religious responsibilities and adherence to human rights. The training is trying to address these issues, so the recruits are aware of the basic principles of human rights and incorporate them in their activities” says Muna.

UNSOM Senior Child Protection Adviser Leopold Kouassi encounters lively debate too on the child protection duties of the army. “Today’s soldiers are not only fighters, but duty bearers. Protecting children’s rights is an important element in ensuring peace” he says.

The soldiers are about to finalise their four-month training. By the end of February they are expected to be deployed in combat operations. They can only be certified by their training providers, including AMISOM and
European Union Training Mission, once they have undergone training on International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.

“The training was good. It talks about human rights. Everyone has boundaries and we should respect those” says private Sidow Mohamud. “Life starts with respect. And we need to respect all people and all religions” adds private Adan Hassan.

UNSOM will continue to deliver human rights training to the SNA in collaboration and coordination with national and international partners and training providers.