Somaliland: Detention of Youth Conflicts the Law is not the Last Solution




Ibrahim Khadar Sa’ed

(Candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies at Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Hargeisa)

17 December 2015


This article identifies neglecting Somaliland teenagers, causes of their detention and without rehabilitation programs. Since the independence of Somaliland there have been weak and ineffective legal and youth policy frame work which have no implementation, action and strategic plans. Furthermore, the nation still doesn’t take any further steps of improving youth situations. Hence, the study after qualitatively observing the arresting and detaining of youth conflicts the law argues that these methods are not the solution but can causes act of violence and desperate youth. By the way, lack of care and protect of street children can cause violation of human rights and abuses. The article argues that Somaliland government and its people needs to cooperate strategic plans and programs which better for their children, like to teach skills and self development projects rather than detention and arresting.


Somaliland is de facto state or autonomies nation which withdrawn its independent from Somalia in 1991 after Somaliland civilians suffered a lot of atrocities from the military regime of Siyad Barre. Hence, Somaliland population decided to took the principle of self-determination by justifying the injustice and atrocities of Sayid Barr’s government.

For the two decades that Somaliland working to build on the sovereignty, economic, political structures, and legal systems, socio-economic and also international relation there have been lessons learned because of the circumstances, such as to forgot youth which are the force of this nation.

Somaliland’s population is below the age of 30’s, while the definition of youth in Somaliland is set by the National Youth Policy as range as 15-35 years, this means that the majority of Somaliland people are youth. So, International NGOs, local NGOs or Civil Society forums put their force or funds fight against immigration (Tahriib) and human trafficking but they don’t even glance what causes this issues and why does Somaliland youth become organized gangs. These forums always held workshops, seminars, awareness, but they don’t touch the needs of teenagers which will result insecurity, piracy, radicalization and other more act of violence if the government or stakeholder doesn’t work together to make advanced and clear rehabilitation programs or research about grassroots of the youth problems.

There is a National Youth Policy which exists structurally, but it is ineffective. It is written professional and beautiful words which need implementation, in order to safeguard the followers of this vulnerable state.

On the other side, Law enforcement agencies hunts and search gang teenagers, but they don’t have other choice rather than arresting and detaining youth without even investigating who they arrest or why they arrest or what crime does this schoolboy committed or even they don’t have any plan which they reeducate these teenagers; so these are what we want to discuss in this short article.

Hereby, the article discusses the situation of youth conflicts the law, especially what causes organized youth gang and why do they endanger the security of Hargeisa districts or other regions; those children are the followers and fruits of Somaliland parents. Most of them are football players or they are organized as football clubs, but they committed theft, robbery or rape.

Police forces are detained or arrest without warrant those schoolboy children then we analyze does arrest without categorizing criminals and innocent school boys are the last option. Because this problems needs to research and examine.

On the other side there are street-children which need to care, so the article will argue the reasons why these children neglected? We dig the legal and laws which give guarantee the protection and the care of children and youth which our baseline references include Somaliland constitution, domestic law (branched the constitution) and international instruments.

Youth Conflicts the law

For last half decade Hargiesa city, Somaliland, experienced an organized youth gang who rob and harm whatever they want in the middle of the streets. Day after day the youth conflicts the law increased and spread different areas in the country. At the beginning they used axe, knives and strong sticks, but later on they bought pistols and other light weapons. After that, the situation escalated, people feared to take Smartphone, pocket money or other valuable materials in nights, because of their youth. These teenagers most of them are schoolboys who got chance to the law enforcement agencies and their parents.

Gang of youths, who used to be organized into football or neighborhood groups are committing crimes and violence felonies in Hargiesa and some other cities that is the fact but the more important issues is to figure out why football boys organized as gangs and committed violence crimes? This is the question needs to highlight.

Although Police in Hargeisa battled in gang related violence, but it is better to make research why this youth doing hooliganism acts? The beginning of this year Ministry of Interior announce fight against hooliganism and youth gang groups which endangers security and increase crime rate in Hargeisa, but he didn’t mention any solution which is not force or pressure on these school boys.

It is national duty to ensure a healthy physical and mental growth of the young, and to improve their well being and maturity and it is constitutional that the state shall give special attention to the promotion and encouragement of physical education and sports which will be recognized as one of the basic subjects in the educational curriculum of both state and other schools.1 but, it become clockwise, because Somaliland youth don’t have football grounds, quality education, mental improvement programs and also Ministry of Sports and Youth neglect to held sports competitions, let alone small competition it failed the national sports.

A youth without national, community or household encouragement will excite gang activities they don’t have any other choice, they take risks to become gangs. This is what causes Hargeisa Youth Gang.

Factors cause youth to become gangs:

  • Lack of jobs for youth
  • Poverty compounded by social isolation
  • Domestic violence
  • Negative peer networks
  • Lack of parental supervision
  • Early academic failure and lack of school attachment2

Arrest and Detention of Schoolboys is not an option?

Hargeisa police always hunt and arrest every boy they seem that he belongs or one of football club, because this is the concept that Hargeisa population took. If youth become footballer it doesn’t mean he commits a crime, but it is better to discover why they rob and loot the people.

In the evening if you try to move around Hargeisa streets you can see a terrorized youth who run away and feel that he is guilty of police, maybe he come from a mosque, maybe he commits a felony. After few minutes police come and frighten the schoolboys around the streets.

It is not bad to detain and arrest gangs or every person commit violence crimes, but there must be rehabilitation and reintegration program in the prison. Somaliland Jails and prison become a place to learn robbing, raping and killing.

In the prisons there are dangerous criminals and experienced rapists and gangsters who can teach a schoolboys what they have experienced and show live practical how to do it.

On the other hand, there are no children correctional facilities (Child prison), because in our police stations and prisons are place suitable to adults not children. If we arrest children in these place we violate constitutional and international human right instruments, we have to work a places suitable for children. If the nation have no ability to build youth correctional facilities and also they arrest a youth gang how they can prevent a crime, because prisons is not intend for punishment it is rehabilitation center.

Why Street children are neglected?

“Street children is any child who lives or roam the streets begging for food or money, looking for causal work such as washing cars, shoes shinning, or stay on street to fend for himself/herself using all methods including selling drugs and stealing from public,” (Save children study, 2013).

In according this definition and the key findings from this study indicates the number of street children in Somaliland main cities is not known. However, there are indications that, there has been a steady increase of street children in the last decade as result of extreme poverty amplified by continuous natural disasters such as drought, HIV and Aids when a member of the family is affected, poor economic returns from livestock farming, and high unemployment rate among youth both in the urban and rural areas3. It is responsibility of the government to care all these neglected children and prepare care centers. But it does, implement its role.

On the other hand, poverty, poor working, lack of parental guidance contributes to the dilemma of street children. These children doesn’t get quality life, education, shelter, food health care and protection from physical, sexual and emotional which government facilitate to them. Let alone to facilitate the legal and policy instrument for protection of children are week, because implementation and lack of accountability.


Youth detention without rehabilitating, neglecting street children, weak legal and in effective you policy instruments and also lack of youth strategy are the causation of act of violence such as hooliganism activities, desperate which is the result of migration and suicide. Even the insurgent around the world can use teenagers to marginalize the situation of these young peaceful state (Somaliland) which it neighbors, Somalia is on the fire.

To hunt, terrorize and detain youth conflicts the law is not an option, because they think themselves as second citizens, because prison is like hell to them, if they don’t get any rehabilitation and reintegration programs such as parole system (conditional release system) the situation will be what we cannot imagine.

As a nation of Republic of Somaliland, we need to think better way to solve these problems and also to improve the situation of our neglected follower or youth which will be the leaders of tomorrow. If we create violence children and then take the administration of this nation they will cause what they taught from their environment or their experience from their population.

Ibrahim Khadar Email:,

Hargeisa, Somaliland


  1. Somaliland Constitution, 2001
  2. Somaliland National Youth Policy.
  5. Save the Children Study on Street Children in Somaliland