Monday, May 14, 2012
Mogadishu ‐ AMISOM peacekeepers have successfully completed an advanced course on International Humanitarian Law applicable to the Somali context. The ongoing training builds on standard pre‐deployment preparation AMISOM officers receive before they are deployed to Somalia. 50 AMISOM officers will soon receive similar training.
The group of AMISOM commanders consisted of 17 legal officers, information officers, battalion commanders and civil‐military cooperation officers who will disseminate their enhanced knowledge along their command chains. The course focused on rules of conduct in hostile conditions, ensuring the distinction between combatant and civilians; the protection of civilians, the sick and wounded. They were also sensitized on Somali culture covering family, gender and social structures – to ensure no tensions and misunderstandings develop between AU forces and the Somali populace.
The Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Hon. Wafula Wamunyinyi commended the AMISOM officers for their commitment to the mission encouraging them to be noble representatives of the mission upholding ethical laws of conduct.
During the closing ceremony he commented: "As the mission expands, there is a great need to uphold International Humanitarian Law and protection of civilians. AMISOM has developed rules of engagement regulating the use of lethal force, which are highly upheld by all our troops. This workshop has equipped AMISOM commanders with an understanding of humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians. As our troops are culturally sensitized they will be in a better position to deal with and protect civilians within the conflict environment."
The African Union policy on the use of artillery, mortars and rockets in military conflict has significantly reduced the impact of the conflict on the Somali population creating no fire zones, improved targeting of weaponry and rules against retaliatory counter battery fire.
The DSRCC also applauded the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Transitional Federal Government, Office of the High Commissioner of Human rights and the UN Political Office for Somalia. The MoU outlined the UN’s commitment to offer technical assistance to the Somali government in the field of human rights to improve the current situation of human rights in the country.