Somaliland: Brutal Beating of Canadian by Police in Hargeisa Leads to International Court


Mohammed Abdirahman claims he was brutalized by police in hargeisa

Somalilandsun – Below is the text of a case filed against the Somaliland police officers by the lawyer representing the victim Mr Mohammed Abdirahman, a Canadian National, by Somaliland Police Officers

To: Somaliland Hon. Ministry of Interior Mr Ali Mohamed (Warancade)

To: Somaliland Police Commissioner Mr. Abdullahi Iman Fadal

CC: Ambassador David Usher, Embassy of Canada to Ethiopia and Djibouti

RE: Brutal Beating of Mr Mohammed Abdirahman, a Canadian National, by Somaliland Police Officers

We the undersigned organisations write urgently regarding the brutal police beating of Mr Mohamed Abdirahman. This letter is a formal notice that Mr Abdirahman has instructed our firm to pursue a legal course of action against the Somaliland Government. Mr Abdirahman who is a Canadian national was subjected to a severe brutal beating using the backs of guns and physical assault at the hands of several Somaliland police officers, during a violent dispersal of a small group of unarmed protesters on the 10 th August 2015. In the same incident, the Somaliland Police also shot and killed a child and wounded four other civilians.

Mr Abdirahman was violently struck with the back of a gun repeatedly resulting in blows to his head, arms, ribs and legs causing severe physical damage. It is worth noting here that Mr. Abdirahman was neither charged nor accused of committing any office. Mr. Abdirahman was neither a party to the protest nor an observer but an innocent bystander at a nearby distance. At the time of his brutal beating his attitude was one of submission rather than resistance yet he was beaten and he was stunned and experienced panic as a civilian without a criminal record who felt the police was meant to defend individual rights rather than act violently against harmless individuals.

The charges available in this case against the officers involved in this incident include the misuse of public authority, causing bodily harm or grievous bodily harm, cases involving aggravating circumstances such as premeditation, the cruelty of acts committed against a person, and abusing one’s powers in the exercise of public functions. These acts constitute clear violations of the Somaliland Constitution as well as international human rights law. The Somaliland Constitution guarantees in absolute and unconditional terms that “no person shall be subjected to torture or degrading treatment.” The prohibition of torture is one of the most fundamental under customary international law, which binds Somaliland. States have an obligation not only to prevent torture, but also to conduct thorough and impartial investigations, and to prosecute those found responsible for committing them.

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials calls upon those who exercise police powers to protect “all persons against illegal acts” and, in performance of their duty, to “respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons.” According to Article 3 of the Code of Conduct, “law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty. “The Code of Conduct further states that “no law enforcement official may inflict, instigate or tolerate any act of torture or any other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

The preceding violations also amounts to Torture under International Law which is defined as involving a deliberate will to inflict suffering for the purposes of obtaining information, punishing or intimidating its victims. Applying the relevant criteria to this case, the violence was inflicted with a punitive goal, a goal of retaliation which sought to cause Mr Abdirahman humiliation and physical and moral suffering. The injuries and on-going physical problems experienced by Mr Abdirahman suffice to establish that the ill treatment he suffered was important, and the fear and anguish he experienced amounts to Torture. Thus, the acute pain, suffering and ill treatment experienced by Mr Abdirahman was particularly serious and cruel.

Moreover, there was no causal link between Mr Abdirahman behaviour and the treatment he was subjected to. Somaliland Government is bound by positive obligations concerning the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, right to liberty and security and the right to an effective remedy that may entail the need to establish a compliant judicial framework, particularly by means of effective criminal law provisions and adequate sanctions against members of the police who abuse their power. Moreover, Internal jurisdiction already recognised the violation of human dignity and respect for the person, with officers acting as cruel truncheon wielders and violence being unusually serious and absolute.

These acts of torture by Somaliland police are extremely serious and require the immediate action of Somaliland authorities. Based on the information we have received to date about the Ministry of Interior’s response to the brutal events, we regret that the Ministry has failed to properly investigate and prosecute or discipline any of the perpetrators in this incident.This response is entirely inadequate under any notion of due process and the enforcement of both Somaliland and international law. The Ministry has a duty not only to investigate and prosecute the Somaliland police involved in this incident, but also to investigate and prosecute the culprits for torture.

WE HEREBY DEMAND that you immediately conduct effective official investigation to identify the perpetrators of this heinous crime against our client and bring them into account. I thank you for your urgent attention to this important matter, and welcome your response.


J Adams

Attorney of Law

Long-croft House , 2-8 Victoria Avenue