Somali authorities are unlawfully detaining and at times prosecuting in military courts children with alleged ties to the Islamist armed group Al-Shabab.
The 85-page report, “‘It’s Like We Are Always in a Prison’: Abuses Against Boys Accused of National Security Offenses in Somalia,” details due process violations and other abuses since 2015 against boys in government custody for suspected Al-Shabab-related offenses. Somalia’s federal government has promised to promptly hand over captured children to the United Nations child protection agency (UNICEF) for rehabilitation. But the response of Somalia’s national and regional authorities has been inconsistent and at times violated international human rights law. The government’s capture of 36 children from Al-Shabab on January 18, 2018 required a week of negotiations involving the UN and child protection advocates to work out procedures for dealing with them.