Somalia: Workers killed as new Constitution is approved

Four farm workers were arbitrarily executed in Somalia by members of the Al-Shabab Islamist group after they refused to give so-called “jihad contribution” and to take up guns to fight for “jihad”. The crime took place on 31 July, a day before the country adopted a historic new Constitution.

The workers, all in their thirties, were arrested at their home and executed in the District of Wanleweyn of Lower Shabelle, in southern Somalia. Both the ITUC and the Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU) have condemned the acts as “brutal” and “unforgivable crimes”.

The violence took place at the same time as – for the first time in history – Somalia’s newly adopted Constitution contains an article on labour relations. The law stipulates that “a person has the right to fair labour practices; a worker has the right to form and join a trade union and to participate in its activities; the right to strike; and a trade union or employers’ organization or employer has the right to engage in collective bargaining”.

The ITUC has welcomed the new Constitution but called on the Somali transition government to end the violence targeted at workers and trade unions. “Somalia has taken an important step towards a more equitable and just society. But the reality is that workers and their families live under constant threat and fear for their lives due to the sectarian crisis. We urge the government to bring an immediate end to this violence,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary.

“The execution of farm workers should be condemned by anyone who cares for humanity,” said Omar Faruk Osman, FESTU General Secretary. “This execution adds to the already painful, merciless and undignified situation in which workers are working and can only have a dehumanizing effect on the families and a brutalizing effect on colleagues”.