Skip to main content

Legal Help | Ayuda


Somalia - Universal Periodic Review - Death Penalty - October 2020

Date: October 8, 2020
Country: Somalia
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Children's Rights, Death Penalty, Detention, International Advocacy
Mechanism: Universal Periodic Review
Report Type: Stakeholder Report
View and Download Document:

The Advocates for Human Rights, along with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, submitted a joint stakeholder report on the death penalty in Somalia for the 38th Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

Use of the death penalty in Somalia continues to be a problem. The government of Somalia and other actors within the jurisdiction of Somalia continue to impose and carry out death sentences for crimes other than the intentional killing of a person. These death-eligible crimes include political crimes, such treason and espionage, and crimes that endanger public safety, even if they do not result in death. In 2019, 24 individuals were sentenced to death (9 more than in 2018) and 12 people were executed. Currently, 150 persons are believed to be under sentence of death in Somalia.

Military courts often pronounce death sentences to civilians and give the defendants no option to appeal the decision. These military courts carry out death sentences at a higher rate than civilian courts, and both courts lack independence and impartiality. Despite recommendations to end the practice, Somalia did not prohibit the death penalty as a punishment for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and it continued to carry out executions of minors. In April 2017, authorities in Puntland executed five boys aged 14 to 17 who were sentenced to death by a military court.

The joint stakeholder report for the Universal Period Review suggests several recommendations for the Government of Somalia:

  • Adopt a moratorium on executions, with a view to the abolition of the death penalty.
  • Commute all existing death sentences to penalties that are fair, proportionate, and in compliance with international human rights standards.
  • Issue an immediate decree prohibiting the execution of any person under the age of 18.
  • Ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.
  • Finalize the transfer of all civilian criminal cases from military courts to civilian courts, bar military courts from trying civilians, restrict the jurisdiction of the military courts to offenses of an exclusively military nature, and ensure that military and state security courts comply with the fair trial standards set forth in Article 14 of the ICCPR.
  • Adopt a new penal code that does not provide for the death penalty or, at a minimum, reserves the death penalty only for the “most serious crimes” involving intentional killing by the person sentenced to death, and work to promote the adoption of such penal code as a unified model for any other court system that continues to operate within the territory or jurisdiction of the government of Somalia.
  • Ensure that detention conditions comply with the Nelson Mandela Rules.