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Daabaco Boggan | Print


Qoraal ka soo baxay Raaqiya Oomaar ayaa shaaca ka qaaday in hay'ada xuquuqda aadamiga u dooda ee African Rights ay aad ula yaabeen, ugana murugoodeen xabsiga lala beegsaday gabadha da'da yar, Samsam Axmed Ducaale, oo 5 sano oo xarig ah lagu xukumay.

Raaqiya Oomaar waxa ay sheegtay in haba yaraatee aan la soo bandhigin wax cadaynaya dembi ay gashay Samsam.




16 December 2004

For additional information contact:

Rakiya Omaar in Hargeisa: Mobile (252 2) 428 330 or (252 2) 30 25 00

African Rights is shocked and saddened that 17-year old Zamzam Ahmed Dualeh was sentenced yesterday, 15 December, to five years in prison by the regional court of Hargeisa, four years for “espionage” and one year for allegedly lying about her name, identity and clan. The sentence was handed down in the absence of her four defence lawyers, who had themselves been imprisoned for two weeks, and released on Saturday after they received one-year sentences and paid a fine in lieu of imprisonment. Zamzam’s co-defendant, Omer Jama Warsame, the driver who brought her from Bosasso to Hargeisa on 15 August, was acquitted, a decision which accurately reflected fundamental flaws in the prosecution case, flaws which apply equally to the case against Zamzam. This is a further indication that political rather than judicial concerns informed the decision of the judge, Abdirahman Jama Hayaan. It raises questions about whether direct or indirect pressures were brought upon judge Hayaan in a case which has awakened national and international attention and which became politically significant on several levels. From the first day Zamzam was brought to court, on 4 October, to the judgement yesterday, the trial has been characterised by a profound lack of fairness, justice and professionalism.

Zamzam is accused of visiting the residence of the Vice President of Somaliland on 15 August, accompanied by Omer, in order to meet with him, and gather intelligence about his family and security arrangements. She was, argues the prosecution, sent by a certain Mohamed Ali Farah, said to be a member of Al Itihaad based in Bosasso, who paid her a modest amount and promised her considerably more money on completion of her mission. The notion that a politician intent on murdering the Vice President would entrust such a sensitive and politically delicate matter to a 17-year old girl who had never visited Hargeisa, and who did not even have the money to pay her fare from Bosasso to Hargeisa, is difficult to take seriously.

But more importantly, the prosecution has not produced a single piece of substantial evidence to back the argument that Zamzam had links with politicians in Puntland or with Al Itihaad. The allegations are supposedly based on written “confessions” which both Zamzam and Omer repeatedly stated in court had been extracted under torture and coercion. Contrary to the statements from the government, neither defendant has ever admitted guilt in court. The prosecution’s entire arsenal of evidence to proof a connection with Al Itihaad was the production of a jilabiya, the Islamic cloak worn by more than half the female population of Somaliland.

The location of the Vice President’s residence in Hargeisa is a matter of public knowledge. According to testimony from the police officers on guard duty that day, Zamzam never entered the house, and so had no opportunity to carry out surveillance of the residence, let alone to damage, in any way, the interests of the Vice President. Moreover, the question of whether Zamzam changed her name and clan identity cannot legitimately be deemed a separate issue meriting a one-year sentence; its significance depended entirely upon whether there was any substance to the espionage charge. Zamzam has consistently denied all the charges against her.

With their lawyers in jail, and their supporters discouraged by the intimidating, and often violent behaviour of the police guarding the court, Zamzam and Omer never had a chance of a fair trial. Despite the serious charges of espionage they faced, and the prospects of a ten-year prison sentence, they were not given the opportunity to call any witnesses to the stand. The judge and the prosecutor involved in jailing the lawyers, who should have been disqualified from the case, were retained and continued to interrogate and hear the case both in camera and publicly.

Beyond the charges against Zamzam and Omer, the case was important because it marked an attempt to put suspected torturers and rapists within the CID on trial. An extremely worrying precedent was, therefore, set when the court threw out the accusations that CID officers had tortured both defendants, and that six CID officers had raped Zamzam. Citing medical reports compiled by doctors in government service, which have never been shown to the victims, their relatives or their lawyers, and the testimony of two of these doctors given in court in the absence of the defendants’ lawyers, the judge ruled that neither torture nor rape had taken place.

Yesterday’s proceedings in Hargeisa regional court constitute an injustice which has damaged the lives of two individuals and their families, but beyond this they demonstrate just how superficial institutional reforms in Somaliland in recent years have been. The administration of justice in Somaliland was under the spotlight and its weaknesses and vulnerability to political pressure were all too painfully apparent. The acquittal of Omer Jama Warsame illustrates the contradictions and confusion at the heart of this trial. The judge’s explanations for “espionage” involved not only Zamzam but also Omer. Yet he was released and she was condemned for four years for espionage. Omer told the court that he was set free after two days of interrogations in mid-August, and then re-arrested and tortured on the orders of the deputy head of the CID, Saeed Mohamed Absiye, after he accused him of damaging his car and demanded compensation. The court did not address this serious allegation against a senior police officer who remains above the law, to the detriment of all the citizens of Somaliland and the prospects of institutionalising respect for the rule of law.

It is deeply unfortunate, above all for Zamzam and her family, that this case has become highly politicised and caught up in the emotions of the current tension between Somaliland and Puntland. Given the intensity of the propaganda that has been unleashed about the case both within and beyond Somaliland, many people lost sight of what matters most: the right of a young girl to a fair hearing and humane treatment in detention.


Faafin: | Dec 17, 2004

Kulaabo bogga 



Allah Is Great
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