A Miscarriage of Justice in the Awo Case

On 6 December 2020, the Court of Appeal of Maroodi-Jeeh, based in Hargeisa,
Somaliland, sentenced five young boys to prison for three years and four months. The boys, from Hargeisa Orphanage, and said to be aged from 15-16 years, were found guilty of assisting two other defendants to commit gang-rape against a teenager living at the
Orphanage, Awo Harir Rage.

Since first learning of Awo’s plight in early May 2020, Horizon Institute has supported her
family in their pursuit of justice. This includes their efforts to examine how and why the
management of Hargeisa Orphanage did not protect Awo and how the government
Ministries which oversee the Orphanage and the interests of children, and the Criminal
Investigations Department (CID), failed to act in the aftermath. Awo has endured
unimaginable suffering that no child should ever have to experience. Awo was fortunate to
have a father, Harir Rage, who refused to allow the violence against his daughter to go
unpunished, and who has insisted that the Orphanage answer for the negligence which
made it possible for a young and troubled girl in their care to fall pregnant.

Awo and her family need and deserve justice. It is the responsibility of the CID, the
prosecution, represented by the Attorney-General, and the courts to leave no stone unturned so the true culprits can be identified, charged correctly and brought to trial. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The CID did not carry out a serious and thorough investigation, making it difficult to bring the relevant charges against the appropriate individuals. The prosecution levelled charges against these five defendants that it could not substantiate. The MaroodiJeeh Court of Appeal imposed prison sentences without having any concrete evidence to support a conviction, further stating that other accused people had not been investigated by the police. Public anger and demands for a conviction dictated a decision which is plainly wrong in law and which punishes vulnerable children who have no one to defend them… read more