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6.1. Relevant circumstances

Last updated: June 2022

In the context of Somalia, numerous circumstances and different profiles may require consideration of the potential applicability of exclusion grounds. The QD does not set a time limit for the application of the grounds for exclusion. Applicants may be excluded in relation to events which have occurred in the recent and more distant past (e.g. acts committed by the Islamic Courts Union, acts committed during the civil war in 1988-1991) [Country overview, 1.3.4, 3.1.1].

COI indicates that excludable acts are committed by many actors both in relation to armed conflicts, as well as in the context of general criminality and human rights abuses.

In relation to potential exclusion considerations, see also the chapters Actors of persecution or serious harm and Analysis of particular profiles with regard to qualification for refugee status.

The examples mentioned in this chapter are non-exhaustive and non-conclusive. Each case should be examined on its own merits.

6.1.1 Crimes committed by state forces and state-affiliated forces

Last updated: June 2022

Serious breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law are reported in relation to the non-international armed conflict between, Somali security forces, FMS security forces and AMISOM on the one hand, and Al-Shabaab, on the other. Reported violations by the state-affiliated forces include unlawful or arbitrary killings (including extrajudicial killings), torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrest or detention. [Actors, 2.4.6]

More specifically, the SNA, the SPF and other Somali authorities have been accused of rape and sexual violence, including in the context of the conflict, child recruitment, killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals [Actors, 2.4.6].

The NISA has been reported to conduct arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and inhuman degrading treatment during interrogation and denial of humanitarian access [Actors, 2.4.6].

FMS security forces were also responsible for serious breaches of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Acts of child recruitment, killing and maiming of children, rape and sexual violence against children, and denial of humanitarian access, were attributed to Jubbaland, South-West, and Galmudug security forces. Jubbaland and South-West security forces were also reportedly responsible for conflict-related sexual violence. South-West security forces conducted attacks on schools and hospitals and were responsible for child abduction. Hirshabelle security forces reportedly subjected journalists and media workers to arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention. Violations by Puntland security forces included arbitrary arrests, child recruitment, killing and maiming of children, rape and sexual violence on children, denial of humanitarian access. Somaliland security forces were responsible for arbitrary arrests, detentions, and torture. [Actors, 7.1.5, 7.2.5, 7.4.5, 7.5.5, 7.6.5, 7.7.5]

While the AMISOM’s respect of international humanitarian law and human rights law standards has improved in comparison to the period 2013-2015, Somali individuals involved in the support of AMISOM could be implicated in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law towards civilians perpetrated by AMISOM, such as killings of civilians and conflict-related sexual violence [Actors, 5.1].

6.1.2 Crimes committed by non-state armed forces

Last updated: June 2022


Al-Shabaab controls large parts of South-Central Somalia and has committed excludable acts in areas under their control as well as in areas under the control of government and state forces. Human rights abuses by Al-Shabaab include, among others:

  • terrorist attacks on civilians
  • targeted killings (including extrajudicial and politically motivated killings)
  • recruitment of children
  • killing, maiming, abduction, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children
  • rapes and other types of sexual violence
  • disappearances
  • inhuman and degrading punishments
  • attacks on employees of NGOs and the UN
  • blockade of humanitarian assistance
  • attacks on schools and hospitals
  • operation of courts imposing punishments that include executions and corporal punishments

[Actors, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5].


ISS has been involved in IED attacks and killings in Puntland, Mogadishu and Lower Shabelle. It has also established links with human traffickers to collect new recruits [Actors, 6, 6.1].

Clan militias

Clan militias have reportedly perpetrated violence against the civilian population, including torture and degrading treatment. Various human rights violations are attributed to clan militias: child recruitment, deprivation of liberty, killing and maiming of children, rape and (conflict-related) sexual violence, attacks on school and hospitals, abductions, denial of humanitarian access [Actors, 3.6].

6.1.3 Criminal activity

Last updated: June 2022

Criminal activities in Somalia are widely reported. Some of the crimes could trigger exclusion considerations, as they could qualify as serious (non-political) crimes and/or, depending on the specificities of each case, as war crimes, crimes against humanity, or acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the UN.

Criminal activities include killings, sexual violence, abductions, banditry, theft, robberies, (child) trafficking, money extortion, piracy, human and/or arms smuggling. In some cases, these crimes are linked to armed groups, such as Al-Shabaab.

6.1.4 Other types of violence

Last updated: June 2022

Violence against women and children (for example, in relation to FGM, sexual and/or domestic violence, forced and child marriage, etc.) is widespread in Somalia. For more information, see profile 2.11 Women and girls.