The African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM] has once again pledged swift action into the incident that left seven people dead at Golweyn, Lower Shabelle, in which the Ugandan army is accused of killing civilians.
Last week, AMISOM maintained that the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces [UPDF] targeted Al-Shabaab militants, who had ambushed them while in routine operation within the region. However, various eyewitnesses and government officials disputed this claim.
But in a statement released on Saturday, AMISOM said preliminary investigations have established that the seven people killed were not members of Al-Shabab, a move that could question the commitment of the mission forces with regard to the safety of them civilians.
AMISOM said it investigating reports that its troops were responsible for the death of the seven. The team is currently meeting the local community as it seeks to understand what exactly transpired during the incident.
“The leadership has since the incident met with the elders, community members, and government officials and made it clear that they will not condone criminal activities against civilians by its soldiers. They also assured them of their commitment to identifying and punishing those who breach the rules of engagement,” read the statement.
‘To investigate this serious incident and recommend follow-on actions, AMISOM has constituted a seven-member Board of Inquiry (BOI), which has immediately commenced its work. This legal inquiry is led by a senior officer and two other members from the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa.”
Others in the team include a senior official from the Federal Government of Somalia, and a senior officer each from AMISOM Military, Police, and Mission Headquarters.
“The Mission is working directly with the FGS and the affected families and has given its commitment to a swift and transparent investigation, which should be concluded by September 6, 2021,” AMISOM noted.
The BOI will establish the extent to which AMISOM troops were responsible for the death of the seven and the circumstances. The Board will recommend payment of amends to the affected families in the event AMISOM soldiers are found culpable and make recommendations to avoid a recurrence.
This comes just a few hours after Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble summoned the Ugandan ambassador to Somalia over the incident. Also summoned was the chief of AMISOM.
In addition, the Government of Uganda has assured the Mission leadership that in the spirit of transparency, if the Board establishes that its officers have a case to answer, a Court Marshall will be constituted and held in Somalia to try those implicated.
“AMISOM is taking a legal approach to these serious allegations in line with international best practice and is committed to conducting a thorough investigation as quickly as possible, hold accountable anyone responsible and abide by all the findings and recommendations of the Inquiry,” added the statement.
AMISOM remains steadfastly committed to peace and security and the protection of the local population. The Mission leadership is deeply committed to carrying out its mandated tasks in Somalia in strict compliance with its obligations under the applicable International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Human Rights law, and its Rules of Engagement, it further noted.