Somaliland: Detentions and Deportations of Ethiopian Refugees & Asylum Seekers

HRLHA Appeal and Urgent Action

September 06, 2012

The Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to express its deep concern regarding the disturbing situations of Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers in Somaliland that has been surfacing since August 30, 2012.

According to information obtained by the HRLHA through its correspondents, the Ethiopian refugees and asylum seekers in Somaliland, most of whom were Oromo nationals, were clashed with the land owner of the area located in front of the Social Welfare Center (SWC) and in the meantime they were unexpectedly surrounded by armed forces of the Somaliland Government at the Social Welfare Centre in Hargessa, where they have been harbored since October 2011. It was said that the armed forces happened to be around the Centre up on a request by a land owner next door to the Social Welfare Centre, who had been accusing the refugees of unlawfully and inappropriately using his land for some purposes. The armed forces were reported to have been harsh and violent in their actions that a refugee named Jafar Jamal was shot at in the leg and the shoulder and sustained serious injuries, while many others were beaten up. It has also been reported that, among the deployed members of the various armed forces, many were injured and one of them died from a seriously injured he sustained during the clash. Even a journalist from Space Channel TV, who attempted to document the incident was dealt with in the same manner, according to HRLHA’s correspondent. Once surrounded by the armed forces, the refugees and asylum seekers were indiscriminately denied exit from and/or entry into the Centre. They were then started to be loaded on trucks and taken away to unknown destinations, except for about fifty six (56) of them, who are reportedly being held in two separate police Stations in Hargeisa.

HRLHA has learnt that those who were left behind in the Social Welfare Centre, most of whom were children and mothers/women, have been kicked out of the Centre in to the streets by the police Officers, and left with no food, water, and other basic needs.

The refugees were appreciative of Somaliland National Human Rights Commission’s efforts to interfere; although it was to no avail.

HRLHA’s reporter has managed to obtain the names of the following refugees among those who were detained

NoNameUNHCR File #
1Umar Ahmed Golu758 06c 00 879
2Jamal Ahmed Abdii758 06c 00965
3Nasir Ahmed Booke758 04c 0014
4Nasradin Mahamed Ibroo758 07c 0082
5Abduu Jabir Abdul-Qaadir758 RF 06 234

Umar Aman Mohamed

758 06c 0027
7Umar Ababe Gabramadin758 RF 149
8Jabir Mumme Boruu758 04c 00094
9Getachew Dhuguma758 06c 00029
10Isfan-Der Abdalla Adam758 06c00583
11Arife Sheek Umer Amiyo758 08c 00251
12Mohamed Abdella Ahmed758 06c 00609
13Ibrahim Hassan Ahmed758 06c 0089
14Mubarif Mohamed Fadir758 08c 00681
15Badiri Abdi Abdulahi758 06c 00621
16Jamal Indale Bulcho758 06c 00870
17Ibrahim Ahmed Umar758 12c 00977
18Nasiradin Shek Badri758 04c 00028
19Nizamu Hassan Qada758 04c 00172
20Belay Tafese Tesema758 06c 00630
21Hussein Adam Turfe
22Kadir Haji Rube758 06c 00912
23Ahmed Nur Mohamed758 0Rf 08074
24Gossa Tasso Ragassa758 09c 00078
25Getu Bekele758 06c 00403
26Ibrahim Yonas Aliyi758 06c 00555
27Chaltu Mohamed Yusuf

There have been reports that, on August 31, 2012, among the 56 refugees and asylum seekers held in two separate police stations in Hargessa, 33 were taken to Wachale, a town along the border with Ethiopia, for deportation. There were also reports that around one hundred other refugees, most of whom were from among the mothers and children kicked out of the welfare centre, have been added to the 33 refugees taken to and held in Wachale for deportation. There are unconfirmed reports that all those refugees have been handed over to the Ethiopian Government on September 1, 2012.

Under Article 33 (1) of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (189 U.N.T.S. 150), “[n]o contracting state shall expel or forcibly return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his . . . political opinion.” The Ethiopian government has a well-documented record of gross and flagrant violations of human rights, including the torturing of its own citizens who were involuntarily returned to the country. The government of Ethiopia routinely imprisons such persons. There have been credible reports of physical and psychological abuses committed against individuals in Ethiopian prisons and other secret places of detention. This obligation, which is also a principle of customary international law, applies to both asylum seekers and refugees, as affirmed by UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the United Nations General Assembly. By handing over the Ethiopian Oromo refugees and others, the  Somaliland Government is breaching its obligations under international treaties as well as customary laws.  Under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1465 U.N.T.S. 185).  Somaliland has the obligation not to return a person to a place where they face torture or ill-treatment.

Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture provides: 1. No state party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another state where there are substantial grounds to believe that they would be in danger of being subjected to torture. 2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the state concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

There have been similar ill-treatment and deportation cases of refugees in Somaliland over which the HRLHA expressed its concerns through urgent actions and/or press releases.  TheHuman Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA) would like to once again express its concerns particularly  about the safety and security of the refugees handed over to the Ethiopian Government and those who are still living in Somaliland.  It urges the government of Somaliland to respect the international treaties and obligations it has signed.  It also urges all human rights agencies (local, regional and international) to join hands with it and condemn these illegal and inhuman acts of both the Ethiopian and the Somaliland Governments against defenseless refugees and asylum seekers. It requests governments of the West and other international organizations to interfere so that the safety and security of the deported refugees to Ethiopia and of those refugees currently living in Somaliland would be secured.


  •  RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to the Somaliland Government, concerned Somaliland officials and  to diplomatic representatives in Somaliland who are accredited to your country as swiftly as possible, in English,  Somali Language, or your own language expressing:
  • Your concern regarding the apprehension and fear of torture of the citizens who are being held in different detention centers; and calling for their immediate and unconditional release;
  •  urging the Somaliland authorities to ensure that these detainees would be treated in accordance with the regional and international standards on the treatment of prisoners,
  • Abide to the International Conventions of the refugees and asylum seekers not to return a person to a place where they face torture or ill-treatment.

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva 1211 Geneva 10,
Switzerland Fax: + 41 22 917 9022 (particularly for urgent matters)
E-mail: this e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

African Commission on Human and Peoples‘ Rights (ACHPR)
48 Kairaba Avenue, P.O.Box 673, Banjul, The Gambia.
Tel: (220) 4392 962 , 4372070, 4377721 – 23 Fax: (220) 4390 764

Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
Council of Europe
F-67075 Strasbourg Cedex, FRANCE
Phones: + 33 (0)3 88 41 34 21
+ 33 (0)3 90 21 50 53
Contact us by email:

U.S. Department of State
Tom Fcansky – Foreign Affairs Officer
Email;>Washington, D.C. 20037
Tel: +1-202-261-8009
Fax: +1-202-261-8197

Amnesty International – London
Tom Gibson
Telephone: +44-20-74135500
Fax number: +44-20-79561157
Email:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Human Rights Watch – New York,
Leslie Lefkow;
Tel: +1-212-290-4700

–Report in PDF