Honoree Amina Farah Jireh sitting next to the First Lady of Somaliland Lady Amina Sh. Mohammed Jirde
HARGEISA — Somaliland Ministry of Justice presented certificate of appreciation and honor to Amina Farah Jireh and the people who worked on the landmark legal case in the United States Yousuf v. Samantar. High-level representatives from the Somaliland government and civic leaders attended the ceremony which was held at Mansoor hotel in Hargeisa. Amina Farah is one of the Somaliland community members in Northern California who contributed to build a legal case against General Mohamed Ali Samantar, who is accused of major war crimes and human rights violations.
The first lady of Somaliland, Mrs. Lady Amina Sh. Mohammed Jird was at the forefront of eminent personalities who converged at Maansoor Hotel on Friday night to honour Amina Jireh. The first lady of Somaliland said, “Amina Farah and other somalilander in the United States have originated this lawsuit against General Samantar. They took upon themselves to act on behalf Somaliland and the victims of Siad Barre regime to hold violators of human rights accountable. And I want to thank Amina and her colleagues on behalf of Somaliland government and its people.”
The ministry of Justice organized this event to thank Amina and all the people who worked on the case. The minster of Justice, Dr. Ismail Muumin praised Amina for her activism and seeking justice. He added, “some of us in this hotel were able to pick guns and fight the war with SNM (Somali National Movement) against the pervious regime, but Amina has fought in a different way. She was able to use the laws of a foreign country to hold war criminals like General Mohamed Ali Samantar accountable for their crimes. She is one Mujahidin of Somaliland”.
Different speakers from the government and civic leaders highlighted the importance of having a national memorial site to honor those who were killed during the war and creating national archive to record stories of the genocide for future generations. Minister of Justice said that the planning to remove mass graves from unmarked lands has already begun. He added that an independent team from EU will visit Somaliland to write forensic and legal report about mass graves before reburying the victims in a national memorial site.
Amina Jireh and other Somalilander in early 2000s met in Oakland with lawyers from the Center for Justice and Accountability, a small San Francisco nonprofit legal center, after discovering that General Samantar has been living freely in Virginia. CJA has been filing suit on behalf of human rights victims seeking to hold their tormentors accountable. General Samantar is accused of ordering shelling of Hargeisa and killing thousands and imprisoning young somalilanders like Bashe Yousuf. With the center’s assistance, Bashe Yousuf and four other Somalilander plaintiffs filed suit against the former Somali prime minister in 2004. The case has gone up all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Bashe and CJA. The case has come a legal precedent and landmark victory for all the victims of torture and abuse around the world.
By a 9-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision that Samantar is not shielded from suit by the FSIA, holding that the FSIA does not immunize individual officials. The Court did note that common law immunities may still apply and remanded the case for proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Amina Farah in a short speech thanked all the people who worked on the case and donors of Canter of Justice and Accountability. She said that, “this award goes to all the people who dedicated their time and money to justice. The case has opened the door for all Somali victims and other people to seek justice in the United States. The case is still ongoing in US court in Virginia. A team from CJA will visit Hargeisa again to collect more evidences […] I want to thank the First Lady of Somaliland and the Minister of Justice for this tremendous honor.” The event wrapped in congratulatory hugs to Amina and by playing Somaliland patriotic songs.
July 6, 2012