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Cablegate: Somalia - Addressing Impunity

VZCZCXRO9341
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #1781/01 2360705
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240705Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0754
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RUZEFAA/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUZEFAA/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 001781

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PHUM PGOV SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Addressing Impunity

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Summary
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1. (SBU) From August 17-18, the Nairobi-based Somalia office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Political Office for
Somalia held a conference entitled, "Addressing Impunity: Toward
Justice and Reconciliation." In attendance were the Ministers of
Reconciliation and Gender and Family Affairs, several lawmakers from
Parliament's Human Rights Committee, and NGO representatives working
in various regions of Somalia. It was the second initiative to take
action on Article 9 of the Djibouti Agreement that addresses
concerns over justice and reconciliation. The first meeting was a
November 2008 workshop for the High Level Committee in Djibouti.
While the conference brought together key actors from the field,
over half of whom were women, it was not an outcome-oriented meeting
and there is no plan of action for specific next steps on how to
address impunity and justice within Somalia's still insecure and
unstable environment. End summary.
--------------------------------
Conference Convenes Field Actors
To Address Impunity
--------------------------------

2. (U) From August 17-18, the Nairobi-based Somalia office of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Political Office for
Somalia (UNPOS) convened a conference in Nairobi entitled,
"Addressing Impunity: Toward Justice and Reconciliation."
Representing the Transitional Federal Government were Minister of
Reconciliation Abdirashid Aden Deeroow and Minister of Gender and
Family Affairs Fauzia Mohamed Sheikh and several lawmakers from
Parliament's Human Rights Committee. Also in attendance were
minority rights groups and NGO representatives from Mogadishu,
Merka, Baidoa, and other towns across Somalia. This meeting had the
unusual distinction of having women comprise more than half of its
participants. The workshop was sponsored by the Embassy of
Switzerland.

3. (SBU) The meeting was the second initiative related to Article 9
of the Djibouti Agreement that addresses concerns over justice and
reconciliation. Sandra Beidas, Director of the UNPOS Office for
Human Rights, introduced the meeting and said that the first meeting
to address transitional justice was a November 2008 workshop for the
High Level Committee in Djibouti. Beidas noted that sweeping
changes in Somalia's political landscape had prevented prior
discussions from taking place.

4. (U) Several international experts acted as resource-persons,
providing examples from other countries including Rwanda, DRC, and
East Timor. Justice Mohamed Othman from Tanzania, the former
Prosecutor General of the UN in East Timor, was well-received and
Priscilla Hayner, Director of the International Center for
Transitional Justice in Geneva led a discussion on justice,
reconciliation and human rights. There was also a representative
from Kenya's Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission who
offered lessons learned from the Kenyan experience. They offered
various models for transitional justice mechanisms such as
traditional and Sha'ria courts, truth and reconciliation committees,
and international tribunals to address widespread impunity. Though
the participants agreed that some of those models could be of some
use in the case of Somalia, they stressed that Somalia-specific
framework would need to be created.

------------------
No Plan to Address
Outstanding Questions
---------------------

5. (SBU) The participants recognized the constraints to addressing
impunity given the current security environment and lack of access.
However, they stressed the importance of beginning the process of
documenting abuses and war crimes. They suggested that in order to
address these issues, human rights awareness campaigns were need
across Somalia, making use of media and grassroots civil society
networks. They noted that Islam clearly defines justice processes
and heavily favors reconciliation before punitive measures. The
group discussed a myriad of challenges that prevent any concrete
actions on justice issues, in particular the lack of any
institutional or traditional structures for addressing impunity. The
participants stated they were categorically against "justice" as
interpreted by al-Shabaab and others.


NAIROBI 00001781 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) During the course of discussions, participants identified
several key questions that must be addressed before developing a
framework for justice in Somalia:

-- Can justice be implemented before stability?

-- How can we speak of transitional justice in a context where
violence is on-going and the government is extremely weak?

-- What modalities of justice can be implemented in the absence of a
judiciary in the short to the medium term?

-- What timeframe should a transitional justice system address,
i.e., from the end of the Siad Barre-era or only during the most
recent five years?

-- Can the TFG be trusted to address issues of impunity when some
ministers in the government are guilty of human rights abuses?

7. (SBU) While these questions were echoed by all of the
participants and the experts offered their respective perspectives,
the workshop did not include a plan for next steps. At a reception
on August 17, many participants worried that they would return to
Somalia and the UN and the rest of the world would forget about
justice in Somalia until the next organization called a meeting,
months or years from now, where "lip service" again would be paid to
these issues. They told us that they continued to believe that,
until impunity was addressed, sustained security and stability would
be impossible in Somalia.

RANNEBERGER

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