By Our Reporter
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has today opened a four-day training workshop on improving understanding and compliance with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights (HR) for thirty-two officers of the Somali National Army (SNA) in Kampala, Uganda.
The training seeks to contribute to professionalizing and building a competent Somali Armed Forces by introducing the essential rules of International Humanitarian Law, both treaty and customary rules and other relevant norms binding Somalia.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation of the Republic of Uganda ,Asuman Kiyingi, noted that the international humanitarian law is a fundamental instrument in the day to day running of the national and International Affairs for a country like Somalia that is emerging from a long spell of armed conflicts.
“It is incumbent upon you to borrow a leaf from countries like Uganda, Burundi, South Africa, among others to ensure discipline, reconciliation, unity in diversity in order to build a prosperous, secure and self sustaining Somalia”The minister said.
Meanwhile Colonel Ali Amer who represented the Federal Government of Somalia said it was important for such training programmes in IHL and HR to include all commanding officers and key personnel of the Somali National Army.
Elsewhere the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs Dr. Aisha Abdullahi observed that the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 additional protocols remain important tools for the protection of civilians, as they clearly stipulate the rules of engagement in a situation of armed conflict.
“I hope this training will provide us with a way forward on how we can use IHL and other relevant regional and international legal instruments such as the ones on human rights in enhancing the protection of such vulnerable persons.” She noted.
Relatedly the representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, Ambassador Mahamat Saleh Annadif commended the Somali National Army for the security gains in the country especially driving out Al-Shabaab terrorists from key towns. He encouraged the officers to build on the Somali customs and norms to better respect IHL and HR.
The training will enhance Somali National Army Officers’ understanding of the basic rules regulating the conduct of hostilities in Somalia. It will also lead to the adoption of a forward looking strategy and action plan to ensure compliance with IHL by SNA and respect for other relevant norms.