When two Somalian teenagers were arrested they were locked in shipping containers for a fortnight. Muhamed, 17, and Daud, just 15, were violently tortured – reporting electrocutions, genital mutilation, drownings, beatings and rape. Now they face life in prison after being forced into a confession. Five other young boys arrested alongside them were executed last month.

This is unacceptable. Tell the authorities to immediately release these boys or give them a fair trial.

Demand justice for boys tortured and jailed for life

More information

Locked in shipping containers, reports of horrific torture

On 28 December 2016, seven teenage boys were arrested in Bosaso, Puntland, in Northeast Somalia, on suspicion of killing three high-ranking officials serving in the Puntland administration.

Ayub Yasin Abdi (14), Ali Ismaeil Ali (15), Daud Saied Sahal (15), Hassan Adam Hassan (16), Nour Aldiin Ahmed (17), Abdulhakin Muhamed Aweys (17) and Muhamed Yasin Abdi (17) were kept in shipping containers for around a fortnight after their arrest.

Two of the boys told their families that each of them had been tortured – including electrocution, being burned with cigarettes on their genitals, binding their genital parts together, being drowned in water, being raped and beaten. The boys said they were treated in this way until they ‘confessed’ to killing the officials and  signed confessions.

Their confessions were used to try them before a military court on 13 February. The boys were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. The only evidence against them was the ‘confessions’ they’d signed after they say they were tortured violently. They had no lawyer. They weren’t allowed to retract the confessions.

The boys tried to appeal their conviction – on their own, as they weren’t allowed  a lawyer – but a higher military court confirmed they would be put to death.

Teenagers executed

On 8 April, five of the boys were executed:

  • 14-year-old Ayub Yasin Abdi
  • 15-year-old Ali Ismaeil Ali
  • 16-year-old Hassan Adam Hassan
  • 17-year-old Nour Aldiin Ahmed
  • 17-year-old Abdulhakin Muhamed Aweys.

The families of the boys executed only heard that they had been killed when it was reported on the radio – they weren’t notified by any official means. And they still haven’t been given the bodies so that they can bury their children.

Of the group, the five who were executed were from a minority clan in Puntland – the Madibaan clan, which has been historically marginalised and discriminated against by both the authorities and other clans.

Muhamed and Daud are from more dominant clans – the Diseshe and Ali Seleban – and have had their death sentences commuted to life. These boys should be given the right to a fair trial or released immediately.

Liberty and justice for all

As human beings we have a basic right to liberty – and governments have huge power to take this away from us. That’s why everyone deserves justice and a fair trial when suspected of committing a crime.

By accepting confessions obtained by torture and refusing to offer these boys legal counsel, the Somalian authorities have broken international law and failed to give their citizens the protection they are owed.

They must be held to account for this gross violation of human rights.

What we’re calling for

We are calling on Puntland authorities to retry the boys in a civilian court, not a military one, and give them access to adequate legal representation that they were denied at their first trial. Any retrial must rely on evidence and testimony that was not extracted under torture. If the authorities cannot convict the boys through fair trial and with ample evidence, they must release them.

We are also calling on Puntland authorities to return the bodies of the five boys who have been executed to their families, so that they may bury them. We want to see an official investigation into the allegations of torture in custody.

We demand that Puntland stops using the death penalty as a punishment against anyone under 18. We ask that Puntland stops executions and establishes a moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to ending its use altogether.