Three men have been convicted and sentenced to death in Somalia using DNA evidence, for the gang-rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl, according to the Bureau of Forensic Science.
In an effort to tackle widespread sexual violence, the country got its first-ever forensic laboratory in 2017 in Puntland. This is a major stride in restoring faith in the judiciary as two decades of conflict and turmoil have put justice out of reach for most.
First case solved with DNA evidence in Somalia
This is time ever that forensic science has been used in Somalia for criminal trials.
The bureau said in a statement that Somalia had “joined, for the first time, the rest of the world in utilising science to solve a heinous criminal case”.
In February, the kidnapping of 12-year-old Aisha Ilyas Adan – who was gang-raped and tortured to death, her body dumped outside her parents’ home – sparked outrage and protests in the region.
The Puntland state government enacted a Sexual Offences Act in 2016, which criminalised sexual offences and imposed tough penalties.
The central government in Mogadishu is still working on adopting Somalia’s first-ever national rape laws.
A new Sexual Offences Act was adopted by ministers in May 2018. It awaits approval by parliament.
Fighting a ‘normal’ crime
Human Rights Watch has described rape as “normal” in Somalia, with police often failing to take cases seriously.
About 10 suspects were arrested in connection with Adan’s rape and murder.
According to State prosecutors 37 DNA samples were taken from the suspects and sent to Kenya for processing the lab where they were stored in Somalia cannot analyse such material at present.
On Sunday, High court judge Abdinur Jama Hussein sentenced the three men “to the death penalty for kidnapping, raping, and murdering Aisha Ilyas.”
In Somalia, the death penalty is carried out by firing squad.