US Supreme Court rules unanimously in Samantar case, allows Somalis to sue ex-minister

BBC: US to allow Somalis to sue ex-PM
The US Supreme Court rules that a former Somali prime minister can be sued over claims of torture and extrajudicial killings. The Court found that the U.S. Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act does not protect individual defendants as opposed to foreign governments.

For background of case, see:   Today-Supreme Court hears oral argument in Samantar v. Yousef–Somalia and Somaliland Torture Case

Burundi vote; Coke(TM) in Somaliland

“This is Africa” has a good new discussion of the state of things after the first round of elections in Burundi.

Meanwhile, with the presidential election in Somaliland now just less than a month away, plans for a local Coca-Cola bottling plant between Hargeisa and Berbera hit the media this week:

Coke will be supplied in Somaliland by SBI (Somaliland Beverages Industries) and after the launch of the factory, bottles of Coke products will be priced to compete with locally bottled no-name brands and all Somalilanders will be able to take advantage of the great Coke taste at a great price.

There is no word yet as to whether or not SBI has considered recycling options for their output, however, perhaps somewhere in the future we can read about another group of Somaliland Entrepreneurs opening the country’s first recycling plant.

News from Hargeisa: Somaliland Presidential Election expected for sometime in June

Hargeysa, Somaliland, April 17, 2010 (SL Times) – The Chairman of Somaliland’s Election Commission Eng. Isse Yusuf Haji Muhammad revealed that they expect Somaliland’s presidential election to take place in June 2010. The Chairman gave this information in the context of elaborating on the election code of conduct that was recently signed by Somaliland’s political parties. He made these three points:

1- The electoral commission has done a lot in preparing for the election including opening offices throughout the country and selecting staff.

2- The voting cards will be distributed in the first two weeks of May.

3- The election is expected to be held in June, but the exact date has not been finalized yet.

See “Somaliland Finally Prepares for Presidential Polls” also from the Somaliland Times with additional background.

Somaliland Times editorial on delegation’s visit to White House

Former deputy chairman of parliament raises concern that NGO’s operating in Somaliland might participate in drafting constitution for Somalia in Nairobi and that this would in some way prejudice Somaliland which is not involved.

Today-Supreme Court hears oral argument in Samantar v. Yousuf–Somalia and Somaliland Torture Case (Updated)

NPR’s story from before the argument this morning.

For a recap of the today’s argument and other details see SCOTUSWiki on Samantar v. Yousuf

This site includes links to the various briefs, including the Amicus Brief filed by Foreign Minister Duale for the Republic of Somaliland in favor of Yousuf (the victims), and other supporting amicus briefs from three Democratic Members of Congress, Senators Spector and Feingold and Representative Lee, and from a group of former US diplomats including Princeton Lyman. The US Government also supported affirming the Fourth Circuit’s ruling overturning the District Court’s dismissal of the case on sovereign immunity grounds.

The Summary of Argument from the Somaliland brief:

TORTURE, EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS AND THE ARBITRARY DETENTION OF SOMALI CITIZENS WERE ALL EXPRESSLY FORBIDDENBY THE CONSTITUTION THAT CREATED THE GOVERNMENT OF THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF SOMALIA. SUCH ACTS THEREFORE COULD NOT POSSIBLY HAVE BEEN PERPETRATED UNDER ANY LEGITIMATE AUTHORITY GRANTED TO THE SOVEREIGN GOVERNMENT OF SOMALIA OR ITS PUBLIC OFFICIALS. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE DOCTRINE OF SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY DOES NOT APPLY.

THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS HAS ENACTED STATUTES PROVIDING THE VICTIMS OF HUMAN-RIGHTS ABUSES A REMEDY WHEN THE PERPETRATORS OF THOSE ABUSES ARE FOUND WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THIS COUNTRY’S BORDERS. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE JUDICIAL PROCESS ENVISIONED BY THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS BE PERMITTED TO GO FORWARD SO THE EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE PEACE AND RECONCILIATION IN SOMALILAND AND THROUGHOUT THE REGION CAN BE REALIZED. MORE IMPORTANTLY, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT THE RULE OF LAW BE APPLIED TO THE PERPETRATORS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN-RIGHTS ABUSES WHEN THEY ARE FOUND WITHIN THE BORDERS OF THE UNITED STATES.

Amicus briefs supporting Samantar were filed by three former Republican Attorneys General, Meese, Barr and Thornburg, and by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Somaliland Times Carries ABC Story on civil suit in US for human rights violations against former Siad Barre Defense Minister living in Metro DC

The link is here. This is a case where we have both alleged victims (including a former Hargeisa businessman) and alleged perpetrator having been officially welcomed into US after the events in question–and one in which the US goverment, with probably quite little awareness by the American public, would have been allied with defendant in his ministerial capacity at the time. It seems to me that there would be a number of positive individual liberty/human rights implications to allowing this case to go forward–the Supreme Court should decide in the near future.

Somaliland/Somalia, Moi, Uganda, Corruption, Deep South

*”Somaliland: The Invisible Country” from Virginia Quarterly Review via The Somaliland Times.

*Nick Wadhams on “a really stupid idea” for Somalia.

*Interesting to see Moi in Uganda campaigning for Museveni’s re-election. What’s the message? “We shouldn’t have to bother with this voting stuff, but turn out for your President and The Party”? Things do seem to be gearing up among Kenyan politicos for Uganda’s election. See this Op/Ed: “Only Moi, Mugabe Could Have Come for ‘NRM Day’“.

*Negative report eariler this month disclosing unfavorable terms for previously secret Ugandan oil contracts with Tullow has helped keep the ball in the air perhaps.

*”US-Uganda Arms May Be Aiding Al-Shabaab says NGO“. From the Daily Monitor: “TFG lacks the capacity to prevent the diversion of substantial quantities of its own weaponry and military equipment to other armed groups and to Somalia’s domestic arms markets”. Full Amnesty International report.

*On the corruption front, the US is seeking extradition of a UK lawyer for allegedly trying to induce a colleague to give false evidence in the prosecution of the case that led to the $579M fine against Halliburton for bribes to Nigerian officials. In the meantime, the UK Serious Fraud Office seems to be moving forward in matters involving BAE which could include the alleged Tanzanian bribery.

*From the Deep South: The Los Angeles Times covers two interesting assistance/development efforts in the Mississippi Delta and Lower Alabama.