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Nov 28, 2008

Focus:Women
Action Request:Write Letter
Location:Somalia

November 04, 2008

13-year-old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed on Monday, 27 October 2008, by a group of 50 men who stoned her to death in a stadium in the southern port of Kismayu, Somalia in front of around 1,000 spectators.

She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

Some of the Somali journalists who had reported she was 23 have told Amnesty International that this age was based upon a judgement of her age from her physical appearance.

She was accused of adultery in breach of Islamic law but, her father and other sources told Amnesty International that she had in fact been raped by three men, and had attempted to report this rape to the al-Shabab militia who control Kismayo, and it was this act that resulted in her being accused of adultery and detained. None of men she accused of rape were arrested.

“This was not justice, nor was it an execution. This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo,” said David Copeman, Amnesty’s International Somalia Campaigner.

“This killing is yet another human rights abuse committed by the combatants to the conflict in Somalia, and again demonstrates the importance of international action to investigate and document such abuses, through an International Commission of Inquiry.”

Amnesty International has reported that:

  • Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was reported as being 23, based upon a judgement on her physical appearance, according to one of the journalists who had reported the stoning. Her actual age of 13 was confirmed to Amnesty International by other sources, including her father.
  • Her father said she had only travelled to Kismayo from Hagardeer refugee camp in north eastern Kenya three months earlier
  • She was detained by militia of the Kismayo authorities, a coalition of Al-shabab and clan militias. During this time, she was reportedly extremely distressed, with some individuals stating she had become mentally unstable.
  • A truckload of stones was brought into the stadium to be used in the stoning.
  • At one point during the stoning, Amnesty International has been told by numerous eyewitnesses that nurses were instructed to check whether Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was still alive when buried in the ground. They removed her from the ground, declared that she was, and she was replaced in the hole where she had been buried for the stoning to continue.
  • An individual calling himself Sheik Hayakalah, was quoted on Radio Shabelle saying:``The evidence came from her side and she officially confirmed her guilt, while she told us that she is happy with the punishment under Islamic law.'' In contradiction to this claim, a number of eye witnesses have told Amnesty International she struggled with her captors and had to be forcibly carried into the stadium.
  • Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander. An al-Shabab spokeperson was later reported to have apologized for the death of the child, and said the milita member would be punished.

What you can do

You can write a letter to the representatives of Somalia, the African Union, and various UN human rights offices to encourage them to take action by investigating this murder, bringing the perpetrators to justice, and denouncing the actions of these insurgents.

Sample Letter

[date]

Subject: Subject: Stoning of Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow in Somalia

Dear [Sir / Madam],

We are deeply concerned to learn about the stoning to death of Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, a 13 year old Somali girl who was publically tortured and murdered Monday October 27 2008 in the local square in Kismayu, Somalia.

Accused of adultery, Aisha Ibrahim Dhuhulow was buried up to her neck in front of around 1000 people while stones were hurled at her head. Witnesses to the stoning said the militants, known as al-Shabaab, accused the woman of adultery and extracted a confession. Although all standard interpretations of “sharia” (or, collections of various Muslim laws and their interpretations) dictate that adultery must be proven by four eye witnesses in a court of law, the Somali Concern Group reported that the killing was extra-judicial, and that the woman did not receive a trial.

Stoning is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran and is considered by many respected Muslim scholars to be un-Islamic. Many Muslim nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Tunisia, Algeria and others have banned death by stoning. Despite calls for abolition from around the globe, stoning still occurs in several countries, either under law or by the community.

Members of al-Shabaab apparently publicized the execution, killing the woman in front of hundreds of people at the town square. When a relative and others pushed forward to rescue the victim, guards opened fire, killing a child. Islamist leaders have reportedly apologized for killing the child, but offered no such repentance for the stoning of Dhuhulow.

Stoning is a grave and serious violation of International Human Rights Law. Stoning breeches the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (1966). Somalia acceded to the convention in 1990.

Article 6 of the ICCPR states that “in countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes”, of which adultery is not.

Article 7 of the ICCPR states that "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". This last injunction is reinforced in the 1985 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) to which Somalia acceded in 1990.

Although the killing was carried out by non-state insurgents, Article 2 of the CAT states that “each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Somalia is one of the only countries in the world that has not signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We encourage you to use your influence and authority to promote and preserve human rights, peace and security in the region. We urge a prompt and impartial investigation into this grave case. Members of al-Shabaab as well as every individual who took part in the stoning must be brought to justice, and the African Union should take due diligence in taking every possible measure in order to prevent any such violation of women’s human rights from reoccurring.

We thank you for your urgent attention to this matter.

Yours Sincerely,

[Your name / your organization]

Addresses:

Representatives of Somalia

The Somali Prime Minister Office
HE. Ali Mohamed Gedi
P.O. Box 623 – 00606
Sarit, Somalia
premiersom@somali-gov.info
Fax: +252-5-974242

Prime Minister's Secretary
Mr. Abukar Ali Abdirahman (Abukar Ga'al)
pmsecretary@somali-gov.info
Fax: +252-5-974242

African Union

African Union Headquarters
P.O. Box 3243, Roosevelt Street (Old Airport Area)
W21K19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 78 44

Social Affairs Commissioner
Adv. Bience P. Gawanas
Fax: +251 11 550 49 85

Directorate of Peace and Security
Mr Geofrey Mugumya
Fax: +251 11-552 58 72
dpeace@africa-union.org

Directorate of Women, Gender and Development
Mrs. Litha Musyimi-Ogana
Fax: +251 11-551 78 44
dgender@africa-union.org

United Nations Human Rights Bodies

Ms. Yakin Erturk
Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Its Causes and Consequences
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
urgent-action@ohchr.org

Mr. Manfred Nowak
Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 917 9006
urgent-action@ohchr.org

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
c/o Division for the Advancement of Women, Department of Economic and Social Affairs
United Nations Secretariat
2 United Nations Plaza
DC-2/12th Floor
New York, NY 10017
United States of America
Fax: + 1-212-963-3463

Ms. Navanethem Pillay
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 9179022

Ms Yanghee Lee
Committee on the Rights of the Child
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Fax: + 41 22 9179022

Please also copy all correspondence to wluml@wluml.org

Background

Somalia: Woman stoned to death for adultery
29/10/2008: Somali Islamists have stoned to death a woman accused of adultery, witnesses said, the first such public killing by the militants for about two years. (Independent / Reuters)

The woman was placed in a hole up to her neck for the execution late yesterday in front of hundreds of people in a square in the southern port of Kismayu, which the Islamist insurgents captured in August.

Stones were hurled at her head and she was pulled out three times to see if she was dead, witnesses said. When a relative and others surged forward, guards opened fire, killing a child.

"A woman in green veil and black mask was brought in a car as we waited to watch the merciless act of stoning," one local resident, Abdullahi Aden, told Reuters.

"We were told she submitted herself to be punished, yet we could see her screaming as she was forcefully bound, legs and hands. A relative of hers ran towards her, but the Islamists opened fire and killed a child."

The European Union's presidency condemned the stoning.

"The EU ... condemns a particularly vile execution, which the Islamist insurgents who took control of the city deliberately publicised," it said in a statement.

The Islamists last carried out public executions when they ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for half of 2006. Allied Ethiopian and Somali government forces toppled them at the end of that year, but they have waged an Iraq-style guerrilla campaign since then, gradually taking territory back.

As when they ruled Mogadishu in 2006, the Islamists now controlling the Kismayu area are again providing much-needed security, but also imposing fundamentalist practices such as banning forms of entertainment seen as anti-Islamic.

Relatives of the woman executed in Kismayu, whom they named as Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, were furious.

"The stoning was totally irreligious and illogical," said her sister, who asked not to be named. "Islam does not execute a woman for adultery unless four witnesses and the man with whom she committed sex are brought forward publicly."

Islamist leaders at the execution said the woman had broken Islamic law. They promised to punish the guard who had shot the child in the melee around the execution.

"We apologise for killing the child. And we promise we shall bring the one who opened fire before the courts and deal with him accordingly," one unnamed Islamist leader told the crowd.

28 October 2008

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Friday November 28, 2008, 7:25 am
Tags: children human women rights violence sharia [add/edit tags]

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De L. (321)
Saturday November 29, 2008, 6:18 am
The more that I hear and see - the more I want to go and live on an island somewhere. This is barbaric and horrific and these people should be living in caves somewhere!!! We take for granted our freedom and our rights - and then something like this is shown. Makes me very appreciative.

Clara Bielecki (18)
Saturday November 29, 2008, 1:23 pm
Well, Stoners, there goes your 96 virgins. May you burn in hell for all eternity. Please bless the children and their grieving families.

doris g. (0)
Saturday November 29, 2008, 5:44 pm
a child,you stoned a child.do you really think God will reward you for this?not only is this horrible and barbaric,you killed a child for grown mens crimes.her reward will be in heaven,yours most assuredly will not.

Elle J. (276)
Monday December 1, 2008, 4:42 pm
This is outrageous and I almost can't rap my mind around such an attrocity. My heart goes out to the families of these children. I am a member of Amnesty International in several areas and I will continue to fight injustice such as this amoung many.

John G. (13)
Tuesday December 2, 2008, 5:01 pm
Where the hell is the Muslim outrage? Where is the compassion of Allah? Fifty "manly?" men to stone one child! Fifty men(?)to cover the crimes of three of their fellow cowards. Now there's a religion in which its followers can take pride.

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