The Dictatorial Military Regime led by General Barre lasted for twenty-one years in Somalia. The henchmen of this tyranny got away with crimes against humanity after committing indesscrible abuses of power and gross violations of human rights and dignity. Then, came United Somali Congress (USC) banditry of mass-murder, looting, rape and clan cleansing, which made the abuses of preceding tyrannical regime look incomparable in magnitude and scale. USC leaders got away with these heinous crimes. Since then, sense of justice and rule of law have lost any meaning in the country, still technically in civil war as meaningful national reconciliation had never happened. It is now hard to think of establishing public institutions to tackle with the epidemic of lawlessness and cultural impunity for all sorts of crimes, corruption, theft and looting of public resources. That is why many politicians aspire to replace General Barre, trying to acquire absolute power in a city-state thuggery. To prevent the repeat of that dark era in Somali governance, regions had opted for federalism as safe governing system for a country with bitter experience in misrule.
To make things even worse, USC mayhem is followed by religious extremists undeterred by known traditions of Islamic culture and studies. Wanton murder and extortion became the norm and modus operandi of peudo-religious elements of suppression, public intimidation and mass violence with daily bomb-blasts, mostly directed at civilian targets and their private properties and businesses for not paying up protection money.
But, what are the root-causes of this culture of impunity?
To answer this, one would be required to study whether there is an existence of individual guilty or responsibility for crimes committed by persons in Somali society.
Somali tribal laws or customary laws (Xeer) deal with collective responsibilities, not individual accountability. An individual’s wrong-doing is collectively shared by the entire clan in terms of responsibility. The wrong-doer escapes individual responsibility as a member of the collective tribal system. The crime committed by one member is considered as a crime perpetuated by the entire clan family. Consequently, every Somali leader, even a dictator or an abuser in government belongs to that same tribal system that is designed to protect him or her from accountability for wrong-doing.
Based on the native customary laws of this society, the whole exercise for installing a functioning Somali state would continue to be a joke, until that time that all Somalis agree upon guiding principles on inserting individual responsibility into administration of justice, that everyone, alone, is individually responsible for his/her actions – no collective clan responsibilities.
PS. An incident took place in North Galkayo sometime ago. Two students from Southern part of Galkayo were having a good time in Northern part of the city.. They wer4 spotted by a group of men there. suspicious, these men asked the students to identify themselves in terms of their clan names. These students were smart not to identify themselves except in a police station. At police station, they identified themselves in front of the Puntland police commander. The police station instantly became a target of mob seige to take the two students by force from the police custody. Luckily, the school boys were rescued that way. What crime did these boys commit to warant this personal danger? Tribal collective responsibility.