Mogadishu (UM) – The shooting of another Bajaaj driver and his family member by a Police officer in Holwadaag district sparked public anger and uprising today in many areas of Mogadishu. The public, very angry, decided enough was enough. The Somali Police Force have a duty to protect the citizens they serve. They have no right to take life unless it is absolutely necessary and lawful. There is no credible verifiable independent information on the violent incident, but eye witnesses say the young bajaaj driver and his nephew were unarmed when they were killed by a police officer. The reasons are also conflicting but the majority of the witnesses have said it was the police officer who opened fire without justification. There are also reports that other protesters were killed by the Police. Whatever the facts, another young Somali life is taken unnecessarily and even more have perhaps gone with him. The public have a right to be angry and frightened: those that are meant to protect them are murdering them.
The Somali Police Force must take this matter seriously and calm the situation by starting an independent public inquiry into the incident.
The Somali security forces as a whole are badly trained and the killing of civilians has been a dangerous outcome of this unfortunate situation. The Police Force is not above the law and while they are the enforcers of the law, they must live by it too. Permanent road closures and “Kala wareeg approach” is not a security policy, it is an invitation for a violent confrontation between the public and the security services first of which is the Police Force because they are most visible and work at the community level.
The killing of a Bajaaj driver is directly linked to road blocks and closures by the Somali police force. These have achieved nothing in the past because AK 47’s will not stop a truck full of explosives and it never did. Bajaaj drivers are working hard to feed their families in a dangerous city with very few opportunities without any government provided social services. They deserve help and not to be killed for this.
The Somali people are tired of insecurity and victim-hood from both Al-Shabaab and the Somali security forces. The Somali security forces must respect the human rights of their people. They must serve and not act as masters of life and death. They must also reform how they operate and develop a public service mentality which centres on effective leadership, professionalism and accountability. The Somali Police Force must win back public trust. They must become the people’s protection rather been their abusers.
Somalia has experienced brutality and statelessness for over 20 years and everybody knows how to use a gun. To make sure this does not happen and people continue to respect the law, the security services must do their job better and stop killing the people with impunity. The Arab Spring started with one frustrated youth burning himself after living with injustice for too long and today’s public riots against police brutality will lead to something worse if the Police do not deal with the situation properly.