Date: 17/02/ 2010                                                                        Ref: OHRC/PR1/0210




On February 10th 2010, family members and relatives of Ms. Bisharo Wa’di Shaqlane informed Ogaden Human Rights Committee about her arrest by members of Somaliland Police and Ethiopian Security Forces. Since then her fate and whereabouts are unknown to her family.

Ms. Bisharo is a prominent feminist who was detained several times under different pretexts by the Ethiopian government.  The Ogaden Human Rights Committee has extensively documented her ordeal from 1996 to 2007 and all details about her past detention dates can be found in OHRC’s reports. See During her detention periods she has undergone physical and psychological torture and she bears physical and psychological scars of the torture. Each time after long months of incommunicado detention without charges or trial she was released on bail, and was restricted to her detention location. In 2007, she escaped from her torturers and fled to Hargeisa seeking safety for her children and herself, where she registered herself as a refugee under another name.

Contrary to the letter and spirit of all human rights instruments which provide protection against refoulement, such as; The UN Convention against Torture, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Somaliland administration handed over an innocent asylum seeker to the Ethiopian government, which systematically tortures detainees, including prisoners of conscience to extract confessions or information under duress.

In Somaliland, for the last 14 years, many Somalis from the Ogaden were detained, tortured, their private properties confiscated and then forcibly handed over to the Ethiopian government against their will, in exchange for political favours. Most of them were traders, residents, asylum seeker and visitors, who were not involved in any illegal activities and have no political affiliations whatsoever.

Many of those who were forcibly returned to Ethiopia have since disappeared in the notorious military detention camps throughout Ethiopia and were never seen again by their loved ones while others were tortured to death.

To the best of the Ogaden Human Rights Committee’s knowledge, Ms. Bisharo was not involved in any illegal activity. She was only an ardent feminist who spoke out against rape of women, domestic violence and genital mutilation.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee calls for her to be either charged with recognizable criminal offence and be given fair trial or immediately and uncon­ditionally released. The OHRC also fears for her safety and well-being, particularly in view of constant reports about confessions made under duress. This fear is heightened by the baseless assertions of Mr. Abdi Mohamoud Omar, the head of the Somali Regional State Security and Justice Bureau, who falsely claimed, during an interview with VOA Somali Section that Ms. Bisharo was detained while she was in the area between Dhagaxbuur and Xarshin. Mr. Omar also verbally attacked and accused her of masterminding of a mine (hand grenade) attack which took place in Jigjiga, on May 28th 2007.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee condemns all acts of killing, torture, arbitrary arrests, dispossession and forcible repatriation of refugees from the Ogaden from the neighbouring Somali administrations.

The Ogaden Human Rights Committee requests the international community, human rights and humanitarian organisations’ immediate intervention on behalf of Ms. Bisharo’s family to secure her immediate and unconditional release.

The OHRC calls upon the Ethiopian government to respect Ms. Bisharo’s basic human rights, including informing her family and relatives about her whereabouts, and granting unrestricted and regular access to them and to representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Ogaden Human Rights Committee