9/26/2022
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The NSS lacks legal base to exist. It has been abolished in 1990

By M. Trunji
Monday September 12, 2022

 

Painful memories of death and torture inflicted on political detainees in cells administered by the NSS, keep still lingering in the mind of many people. It is impossible to forget such horrible events. They linger on in the memory forever.

The Constitution of 1961in force until the October 1969 coup d’état protected the civil rights outlined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These included the right of Habeas Corpus, the freedom of political association, public expression, personal liberty and movement, and the right to form labour unions and to strike making Somalia a rare example in Africa. However, with the military take-over, in 1969 the situation has radically changed as all political rights and civil liberties everyone had the right to enjoy were outlawed.

Repressive Legislations and Institutions

The military regime, in 1970 introduced a body of repressive legislations and institutions, the most important of which were:

1.    L Law n.1 of 10 January, 1970 – Power to Detain

2.    Law n. 3 of January 10, 1970 – Creation of the National Security Court

3.    Law n. 14 of February 15, 1970 – Establishment of the National Security Service (NSS)

4.    Law n. 64 of October 10, 1970 – The abrogation of the Habeas Corpus

5.    Law n. 38 of  April 1972 – Judicial powers to the Military Supreme Council

The National Security Service (NSS)

The purpose of the National Security Service (NSS) was to serve as the primary intelligence service of the military regime, and the bedrock for its repressive internal security apparatus, modeled after the KGB of Soviet Union. The agency conducted most of its activities domestically on Somalia soil and against Somali citizens. From 1970 and over the two successive decades, the NSS became increasingly zealous in its pursuit of persons judged to be disloyal to the regime, harassing, arresting without judicial approval, forcing many opponents of the regime into exile. The Chief of the agency only reported directly to the Head of State and operated autonomously without interference from the government.

In addition to the NSS, there were a plethora of security agencies created by the military regime, the most important of which were: the dhabr jebinta, literally “Backbreakers”, a branch of the Military Police, the Hangash, another branch of the military police, and the investigative wing of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP)

 

The Special Branch of the Police and the Army’s Intelligence Service (Xafiska Wardoonka Sirta) 

Before the military coup d’état of 1969, the national Police Force, had in its structure a service known as “Special Branch”, a unit responsible for intelligence gathering in matters of national security and organized criminal activities. The Somali police force, led by the able General Mohamed Abscir, was regarded efficient and professional. Similarly, within the national Army’s establishment, there was an intelligence branch, known as “Wardoonka Sirta”. The primary mission of the military intelligence was to provide timely, relevant, accurate, and synchronized intelligence. The Army’s military intelligence Service performed very well its tasks without unnecessarily infringing on people’s civil liberties. However, on the establishment of the NSS, both the Special Branch of the Police and the Military Intelligence Services (Xafiiska Wardoonka Sirta) had ceased to operate. In fact, Article 8 of the Law establishing the NSS states:

“On the establishment of the National Security Service, the Special Unit of the Police and the Wardoonka Sirta of the Army shall cease to exist, and all their files and instruments, transport and any other equipment shall be transferred to the Nation Security Service” (Law n. 14 of February 15, 1970)

The Habeas Corpus (Article 66 of Somali Criminal Procedure Code) was first temporarily suspended to be later abolished (Law n. 64 of October 10, 1970) In simple words, the Habeas Corpus is a principle that states that a person cannot be kept in prison unless she/she has first been brought before a court of law, which decides whether it is legal for the person to be kept in prison. The abolition of the Habeas Corpus gave the NSS power to keep detainees unlimited time in prison without warrant.

Strictly linked to the NSS was the National Security Court, established under Law n. 10 of January, 1970. The National Security Court heard a wide range of cases for embezzlement by public officials, murder, tribalism, and political activities against the military regime. The functions of the ordinary Courts were taken over by the National Security Court.  Decisions made by the Security Court could not be appealed..

Abolition of the NSS and other repressive institutions

In 1990, as a result of growing pressure from different quarters, internal and external, the government was induced to abrogate all special laws and repressive institutions. The strongest pressure came from a group of prominent politicians, including the first civilian president, the former president of parliament, former ambassadors, civil servants, religious leaders, elders and intellectuals who, on May15, 1990, addressed to the President of the Republic a powerful appeal (Manifesto) in which they requested, on behalf of the Somali public, to abolish the NSS and other repressive institutions, including the National Security Court, Hangash, Dhabar Jebin and similar institutions. They asked, among other things, for the restoration of the Habeas Corpus, the old Somali Penal Code of December, 1962 and the Penal Procedure Code of January 1963.

The continued existence of such an agency, symbolizing the defunct regime, is at variance with the fundamental principles of freedom and civic liberties enshrined in the new Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

It is, therefore, high time to bring to the attention of our current political elite (government and Parliament) to immediately disband this infamous agency, the NSS, and restore the Special Branch of the Police and the “Wardoonka Sirta” of the Army to do their institutional services.   

M. Trunji
E-mail: [email protected] 



 





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