Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Will Track Down Rapists of War and Show Them No Mercy'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

'We Will Track Down Rapists of War and Show Them No Mercy'

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicholas Cecil Deputy Political Editor

THUGS committing rape in warravaged Somalia were today warned they will be "hunted down" and shown no mercy.

The hardline message came from Somalia's foreign minister Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adan, who is in London for a major conference on rebuilding the country after more than two decades of civil war.

One of two women -- and three former Londoners -- in the ten-strong Somali Cabinet, she is determined to target perpetrators of sexual violence in conflicts. "I would say to them 'you have no place in our country'," she told the Evening Standard.

"And I would warn them that they will be hunted down and brought to justice. God will know what they have done and they will be punished accordingly and shown no mercy."

The UN recorded 1,700 rapes in camps for displaced people in Somalia last year, many committed by men in security force uniforms. "According to Somali law, any rape committed by an attacker with a gun is punishable by death," Ms Fawzia Adan, who is also deputy prime minister, said.

It is not clear how many rapes were by "criminals wearing military uniform" or militias rather than bona fide security forces.

But Ms Fawzia Adan stressed: "We need to bring more perpetrators of such attacks to justice. We are already making progress in this area and a number of rapists have been executed according to the law."

Britain does not support the death penalty but Foreign Secretary William Hague has put the UK at the forefront of the campaign against sexual violence in war zones.

"The UK's engagement on this issue has helped change the environment for debate," said Ms Fawzia Adan."It helps all those campaigners who have been pushing for an acknowledgement of the problem rather than the traditional denial."

Somalia has been blighted by warlords, Islamist militants, and rival politicians battling for control for 22 years, with hundreds of thousands killed in the violence and by famine. But Somalia now hopes for a brighter future after a UN-backed government came to power last September.

The country's main Islamist militant group al-Shabab, linked to al Qaeda, has been driven out of main cities. …

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