AMISOM conducts training for trainers in international humanitarian law and international law on human rights for officers in the Somali National Army (SNA)

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – A five-day training course for Somali National Army (SNA) personnel and officials from the Federal Ministry of Defense is underway in Mogadishu to improve their knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL).

The training, which takes place at the Palms Luxury Hotel in Mogadishu, was opened on Friday by the Special Representative of the President of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Francisco Madeira, and the Federal Minister of Defense, Mohamed Ali Hagaa.

The Director General of the Ministry of Defense, Hassan Said Samatar, was also present. The training coincided with the celebration of the International Day for Human Rights.

Organized by the Protection, Human Rights and Gender Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the training is attended by 18 SNA trainers and commanders whose duties include military planning and conducting joint operations with AMISOM, and three civil servants from the Ministry of Defense.

Topics to be addressed include rules on the protection of victims of armed conflict, rules on the conduct of hostilities, the doctrine of command responsibility within the IHL, human rights applicable to armed conflicts, the relationship between the IHL and the IHRL, war crimes in non-international armed conflicts, enforcement of the IHR , the relationship between Somali customary warfare rules, Islam, IHL and IHRL, and the origin and development of IHR and IHRL, and UN human rights policy due diligence (HRDDP).

Ambassador Madeira spoke to the participants and stressed the need for military personnel to familiarize themselves with the IHR and the IHRL in order to avoid human rights violations in armed conflicts.

“The primary purpose of this training is to increase your knowledge of IHR and IHRL, and to discuss the role of IHR and how it protects in war. As a SNA commander and instructor, you have an important responsibility to ensure respect for IHR during military operations, because you are criminally responsible for serious violations committed in accordance with their orders, “said Ambassador Madeira.

Ambassador Madeira added that a full institutional understanding of IHL and IHRL issues within the SNA can only be achieved if officials in charge of educational institutions continuously obtain such training and share the knowledge gained.

“You have an obligation to ensure that SNA troops are trained in the international humanitarian law governing the conduct of hostilities in Somalia. This obligation can only be realized if all SNA officers and officers responsible for training in military schools are equipped with knowledge of IHL and IHRL, and understand their obligations under the law regarding internal armed conflicts, “he said.

The SRCC said that it was the duty of the participants to cascade the knowledge gained to their colleagues, so that their conduct in combat and the hunt for the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, takes place within the framework of the IHL and IHRL.

He praised the SNA and the Ministry of Defense for the cordial working relationship with AMISOM, and called for even stronger cooperation in the fight against al-Shabaab terrorists.

“Over the years, we have strived to develop close, friendly and constructive relations with the SNA and other branches of the Somali security forces. We must continue to do so because we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Ambassador Madeira.

For his part, Minister Hagaa said that the SNA is growing stronger, which he attributed to existing cooperation with AMISOM. He urged participants to actively participate in the training and contribute to the further growth of the army.

“The Somali military has come a long way, and it is constantly building and gaining momentum, thanks to AMISOM and the troop-contributing countries that continue to help in this regard. If there is ever a need in the future for us to help any of these countries, Somalia’s troops will sacrifice themselves to offer that help. I advise the participants to take this training seriously so that it can be cascaded down to other staff, says Hagaa.

During the five days, participants will participate in interactive discussions and scenario-based exercises facilitated by AMISOM Senior IHL / Human Rights Advisor, Dr. Omar Abdulle Alasow, and AMISOM Head of Civilian Casualty Tracking and Response Cell (CCTARC), Jones Sarfo.

According to Dr. Alasow is also training to fulfill AMISOM’s responsibility for capacity building vis-à-vis SNA, according to the leadership of the Somali Transition Plan (STP) prior to AMISOM’s planned exit.

“This training is a refresher for Somali security forces officers in charge of training in military schools and commanders with direct responsibility for operations so that they can replicate such training as AMISOM leaves soon. As you know, the Somali Transition Plan places high priority on capacity building when AMISOM leaves and transfers security responsibilities to Somali security forces, says Dr Alasow.

SNA’s Head of Curriculum Development and Education, Lt. Mohamed Abubakar Mohamed, welcomed the training, which he described as timely.

“I have attended similar training sessions before, but this is a good refresher course. I intend to cascade the knowledge to the SNA officers under my command, as it helps us to prioritize conducting business in accordance with the law, especially when it comes to protection. civilians during armed conflicts.In addition, the SNA will soon take over from AMISOM, so such training will come in handy, says Lt. Mohamed.

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