Amnesty International gets International Law Wrong in Africa- By Michael Rubin


Fighting continues in and around Las Anod [Laascaanood], the capital of Somaliland’s Sool district. Almost five months into the conflict, the background to the political and geopolitical context of which can be read here, here, here, and here.

Today, Amnesty International released a report that argued that Somaliland is at fault for using inaccurate weaponry in a civilian area. Put aside the fact that the report suggests Amnesty researchers only spoke to one side in the conflict and had no mechanism with which to affirm their interviewee’s truthfulness. It would be silly to deny the tragedy or human suffering accompanying the current fighting.

What caught my eye was this passage: “Interviewees told Amnesty International that Somaliland forces were initially based in the eastern and western outskirts of the city, while armed fighters affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan were mostly within the city.”

While accidental deaths of civilians are not a war crime, militias dressed as civilians and taking shelter in civilian areas are. Nor does Amnesty appear to investigate the presence of Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Shabaab militiamen, senior officers from Puntland, or fighters from the U.S.-trained Danab Brigade. Evidence is overwhelming about the presence of all of these belligerents as Somaliland has recovered the bodies of those killed in the fighting.

Amnesty has been through this path with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Once again, Amnesty International appears to confuse cause-and-affect and allow its personnel’s politics to trump proper procedure and objective assessments of international law.

Still, the report has value. Amnesty argues that Somaliland’s 107mm rockets are “inherently inaccurate.” Perhaps the conclusion that should be drawn from Amnesty’s latest report is that the United States and its European partners should arm Somaliland with more precise weaponry as it stands on the frontlines of a fight against insurgents and terrorists?


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