Eighteen commanders and instructors of the Somali National Army (SNA) and Ministry of Defence personnel have completed a five-day Training-of-Trainers course to enhance their knowledge in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law (IHRL).
The training in Mogadishu, organised by the Protection, Human Rights and Gender Unit of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), concluded on Tuesday.
The closing ceremony was presided over by the SNA Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Odowaa Yusuf Rageh. Also present was the AMISOM Head of Mission Support, Maj. Gen. Fidza Dludlu.
In his closing remarks, Gen. Odowaa urged the participants to practice what they had learnt and share the knowledge with colleagues, especially during offensives against the militant group Al-Shabaab.
“I hope that you will implement the lessons learnt and share the knowledge with the others in the SNA about this important topic of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. I hope this important training will help better the forces’ conduct,” said Gen. Odowaa.
He added that as a country, Somalia and its army still face many challenges, which he noted can be overcome with such training in IHL and IHRL.
“As you know, we are a country still at war, and I believe you needed this important human rights training you have received. Ensure you share the knowledge gained so that there will be no need for foreign trainers in the future. You have been imparted with the knowledge to train others,” added Odowaa.
During the course, the participants engaged 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.
Topics of discussion included rules on protecting victims of armed conflict, rules of conduct of hostilities, the doctrine of command responsibility in IHL, human rights law applicable to armed conflict and the relationship between IHL and IHRL.
Other topics included war crimes in non-international armed conflict, enforcement of IHL, the relationship between Somali Customary Rules of Warfare, Islam, IHL and IHRL, origins and development of IHL and IHRL United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP).
Jones Sarfo noted the participants’ enthusiasm during training and expressed optimism that the knowledge would go a long way in preparing the SNA to take over from AMISOM.
“Having interacted with the participants and taken them through the various topics covered in the five days, I am confident the message has hit home. We look forward to a more prosperous and more defined SNA,” said Sarfo.
Most of the trainees noted that the training would help mainstream human rights and protect civilians during operations against the Al-Shabaab.
“I want to thank my fellow trainees and the trainers. This was an eye-opener and enabled me to meet new people. We gained a lot in training, and I look forward to sharing the knowledge gained with my colleagues,” said Sergeant Samra Abdirahman Ahmed.
Another SNA trainee, Lt. Abdihakim Hassan Mohamed, noted that he had learned how to handle detainees.
“Some of the new things we learnt here include International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law. We also learned how to humanely deal with detainees as well as other human rights practices,” said Lt. Mohamed.