by Abdirahman Mohamed Jama, elected Member of Somaliland Parliament
A British-Trained Somaliland police unit is terrorizing the people and violating basic rights. Because the police in general enjoy impunity, the actions of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) are not investigated. The highly feared RRU was created as a paramilitary police force trained by the United Kingdom to combat terrorism. Now, the Somaliland government uses it to suppress opposition and stifle dissent.
The list of Rapid Response Unit crimes is getting longer by the day. Its members clashed with peaceful protesters in Hargeisa on November 15th, 2014, the same day they occupied and hijacked the parliament. On the 28th of December 2013, they fired live bullets indiscriminately at people protesting water shortages in Hargeisa and on December 6th 2012, they confronted supporters of the Xaqsoor political movement and several young people were killed and dozens were injured.
The hijacking and occupation of the Somaliland Houses of Parliament on 15th November 2015, was especially brazen. On that day, the RRU was used for the unlawful arrest and beatings of Somaliland MPS. The arrested MPs are listed here:
- Hon. Said Elmi Robleh,the chairman of Justice and Human rights committee
- Hon. Ibrahim Mahdi Buubaa, the chairman of Standing committee
- Hon Bashir Tukale, Deputy chairman of Internal Affairs and Security committee
- Hon. and Lawyer Mohamed Saleh Egeh
- Hon. Jama Hassan Adan.
The RRU has also been used for high profile house raids and arrests of former government officials and members of the opposition in the wee hours of the night. Those arrested are listed here:
- October 2014. The arrest of Hassan Ahmed Muse (Goodaad), the Shadow minister of Agriculture of Waddani Party.
- May 2014, the arrest of Abdillahi Abokor Osman, the former Vice-Minister of Internal Security.
- January 2014, the arrest of former Governer of Togdheer (Burao) Region.
- June 2013, the arrest of former director of Public Relations department of Presidential Palace.
The British government continues to train and provide financial and technical support to the RRU. The unit does not have published mandate and works in secretive manner. The unit violates the laws of Somaliland when conducting its operations and must be reformed.