19 May 2007 04:18


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  • Date :[7 Jun 2000]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.



His Excellency,  President Ismail Omar Geelle
His Excellency, the President of the Supreme Court (cour  supreme)
The Office of State Prosecutor

Your Excellencies,

First of all, I should like to thank H.E. President Ismail Omar Geelle, the
Government of Djibouti and its people for their role in assisting  the
people of Somalia. It is a privilege and an honour to write to you
personally and I have the honour of enclosing this letter of appeal  entitled
"Prosecution of suspected Somali war criminals in Djibouti." to  your Government.
I also have the honour to lodge, with the Government of Djibouti as  state
party to inter alia, the 1949 Geneva Conventions (08.04.1978)  an the
Additional Protocol (08.04.1991) the following appeal letter in  respect of
prosecuting suspected Somali war criminals in Djibouti.

In H.E. President Ismail Omar Geelle's inaugural speech at the fifty-
fourth session of the United Nations General Assembly in September  1999,
the President made clear that war criminals are not immune from
prosecution   and that perpetrators of international human rights and
humanitarian law (the   laws and customs of warfare) are accountable for
their acts.

There is no doubt that "[t]he universality principle is based on the
assumption that some crimes are so universally condemned that the
perpetrators are the enemies of all people", and "[t]herefore, any nation
which has the custody of the perpetrators may punish them according to  its
law applicable to such offences". Demjanjuk vs. Petrovsky (1982)

Your Excellencies,

During Barre's 21-year dictatorial rule, which came to an end in 1991,
international human rights and humanitarian law were violently abused in
Somalia. Despite Barre's fall from power, there has been no respite  from
such barbaric and inhumane practices. State structures have  disintegrated
resulting in a violent bloodshed and a very primitive system  based on clan
rivalry. The civilian population have been not only directly  and indirectly
affected by hostilities, but also indiscriminately targeted.  Consequently,
the grave human rights and humanitarian law violations in  Somalia have been
concerns of the international community. Such  concerns are referred to in
numerous reports and resolutions including  those of the Security Council,
the  General Assembly, ECOSOC, the  Commission on Human Rights, the Sub-
  Commission on Prevention of  Discrimination and the Protection of
Minorities, and reports by  Independent Experts.11

Moreover, reports from human rights organisations, such as Amnesty
International, document a depressing reality.

Human rights and humanitarian law are part of public international law,
namely the law applicable to States, either as customary international  law
or multilateral treaties. Human rights law sets out economic, social,
cultural, civil, and political, rights which are fundamental to the dignity and
development of all humans. In contrast, humanitarian law is the body of law
which governs armed conflicts whether international or internal; it  seeks
to protect those hors de combat who are not or who are no  longer taking part
  in the hostilities and restricts the methods and means  of warfare
employed. Humanitarian law holds individuals responsible for  violations of the laws
and  customs of warfare which they commit, or  order others to commit. It
requires that individuals responsible for  serious violations should be
prosecuted and punished as criminals.

Although State structures have broken down in Somalia and the
government is non-existent, it remains a subject of international law.
Somalia  has ratified a number of international instruments some of which
recognise universal jurisdiction for certain international crimes. Under  existing
principles of international law, States already have the obligation  to
prosecute persons alleged to have committed grave breaches  against the
laws and customs of warfare such as war crimes, crimes  against
humanity. In conformity with the existing principles of universal
jurisdiction, Djibouti has incorporated in its national laws provisions   criminalising
breaches of international humanitarian law.

As regards to violations of human rights and humanitarian law in Somali,
the United Nations Security Council has, in two resolutions on  Somalia
(S.C. Res. 794, 3 December 1992; S.C. Res. 814, 26  March 1993),
unanimously condemned breaches of humanitarian law  and stated that the
authors of such breaches or those who had ordered  their commission would
be held "individually responsible" for them.

Moreover, there are cases where individuals, nationals and resident non-
nationals, who committed violations of human rights and laws and  customs
of warfare in Somalia, have been prosecuted before national  courts, yet
many of the perpetrators of such crimes are found within  those conferring
in Djibouti. War criminals are not immune from  prosecution, and individuals
responsible for the commission of war  crimes in Djibouti are accountable
for their acts.

Your Excellencies,

I appeal to your government to enforce universal jurisdiction as regards  to
suspected Somali war criminals in Djibouti. Universal jurisdiction as
treaty and customary international law (the Geneva Conventions of 1949  and the
first Additional Protocol of 1977), oblige the Republic of  Djibouti to
suppress violations of humanitarian law. The law requires  the Republic of
Djibouti to search and punish all those who have  committed Grave
Breaches before their own courts regardless of  nationality or where the
crime was committed.

As human rights lawyer and in the sprit of human rights and human  dignity,
I have the honour to lodge with the Government of the  Republic of
Djibouti as a signatory to the 1949 Geneva Conventions  (08.04.1978) an
the Additional Protocol (08.04.1991) to take all  measures that are
necessary to bring suspected Somali war criminals  before their own court.
Let me conclude by repeating my appeal to the Republic of Djibouti to
carry out a preliminary investigation and bring criminal proceedings
against suspected Somali war criminals in its territory. I have no doubt  that
Djibouti   has a modern judicial procedure that corresponds to the   requirements of
constitutional State.

Yours respectfully,    Date: 9/5/2000

Dr. Omar Abdulle Alasow

2 Pomoja lane
London, N.19 4AD,
United Kingdom,
Tel. 44 171 263 4796,
Email: oa5@soas.ac.uk

footnote 1

For further information please see:

S.C. Res. 954 (11/4/94).S.C. Res. 953 (11/1/94).S.C. Res. 946 (9/30/94).S.C. Res. 923 (5/31/94).
S.C. Res. 897 (2/4/94).S.C. Res. 886 (11/18/94).S.C. Res. 885 (11/16/93).S.C. Res. 878 (10/29/93).
S.C. Res. 865 (9/22/93).S.C. Res. 837  (6/6/93).S.C. Res. 814 (3/26/93).S.C. Res. 794 (12/3/92).
S.C. Res. 775 (8/28/92).S.C. Res. 767 (7/27/92).S.C. Res. 751 (4/24/92).S.C. Res. 746 (3/17/92).
S.C. Res. 733 (1/23/92).G.A. Res. 48/201 (12/21/93).G.A. Res. 48/146 (12/20/93).
G.A. Res. 47/167 (12/18/92).G.A. Res. 47/160  (12/18/92).G.A. Res. 47/107 (12/16/92).
G.A. Res. 46/176 (12/19/91).G.A. Res. 45/229 (12/21/90).G.A. Res. 44/178 (12/19/89).
G.A. Res. 43/206 (12/20/88).ECOSOC Dec. 1995/272, ECOSOC Dec. 1994/258., ECOSOC Dec. 1993/282., ECOSOC Res. 1991/3., Comm'n Res. 1996/57.,Comm'n Res. 1995/56.,Comm'n Res.   1994/60.
Comm'n Res. 1993/86.Sub-Comm'n Res. 1992/11., Sub-Comm'n Res. 1991/29., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/1994/1166)., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/1994/977)., Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/1994/839)., Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/1994/614)., Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/1994/12)., Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/26738).
Rpt.  (S/26351)., Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/26317)., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/26022).
Further Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/25354 and Add.1 & Add.2)., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (A/47/553).
Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/23829 and Add. 1 & 2)., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/24343). Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/24480).
Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/23445). Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (S/23693)., Rpt. Sec.-Gen. (A/46/457).
Reports by the Independent Experts:
E/CN.4/1994/77,E/CN.4/1994/77/Add.1,E/CN.4/1996/14,E/CN.4/1996/14/Add.1., E/CN.4/1990/17;
E/CN.4/1991/17., E/CN.4/1990/22;E/CN.4/1991/36, E/CN.4/1993/46;E/CN.4/1994/7; E/CN.4/1995/61.
E/CN.4/1996/14, E/CN.4/1996/14/Add.1, E/CN.4/1997/88, E/CN.4/1998/96, E/CN.4/1999/103
E/CN.4/1999/103/Add.1,E/CN.4/2000/110, E/CN.4/2000/110/Corr.1,


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