Johannesburg – CAGE Africa opposes the decision by US President Trump to relax some of the rules for preventing civilian casualties in its counter terrorism strikes in Somalia.
The existing USA battlefield rules already transgress international laws of war. The USA has arrogated to itself the right to kill any human being, anywhere and at any time. The killing is done for secret reasons, based on secret evidence in a secret non-transparent clandestine process, using secret criteria and carried out by secret persons.
Trump’s directive will allow Africa Command to treat Somalia under even less restrictive and non-transparent battlefield rules.
No interagency vetting is required on strikes, meaning commanders may strike people thought to be al-Shabaab militants using only that requirement, without them posing a specific threat to the US. Some civilian bystander deaths are permitted if deemed “necessary and proportionate”.
Trump also, by Executive Order, extended the state of emergency in Somalia with respect to “the unusual and extraordinary threat” to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, facilitating increased military activity in the country.
Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:
“The United States is already working hand in hand with Somalian forces and the Africa Union mission in Somalia (AFRISOM), whose have been accused of gang rape and other atrocities against civilians. This directive will add to the recruitment drive of al-Shabaab in the same ways as their continuous support of abusive troops does.”
“Gung-ho militancy is not the way to find solutions. Rather, it threatens civilians and creates a climate of fear. On top of this, the directive comes at a time of draught and famine for Somalia, when groups of people roam the countryside in search of food and can be easily mistaken for militants.”
“We call for a complete withdrawal of AFRISOM troops in Somalia, an end to extrajudicial killings by drone or otherwise, in favour of a dialogue based approach to the conflict, and full accountability for war crimes. The people of Somalia deserve nothing less.”
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