Jamhuuriyada Demuqraadiga Soomaaliyeed
Joined United Nations: 20 September 1960
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 29 March 2013
CHAPTER 2 CHAPTER 2 : FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND THE DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN CITIZENCITIZENCITIZEN CITIZEN
Title One: General Principles Of Human Rights
Article 10. Human Dignity
(1) Human dignity is given by God to every human being, and this is the basis for all human rights.
(2) Human dignity is inviolable and must be protected by all.
(3) State power must not be exercised in a manner that violates human dignity.
Article 11. Equality
(1) All citizens, regardless of sex, religion, social or economic status, political opinion, clan, disability, occupation, birth or dialect shall
have equal rights and duties before the law.
(2) Discrimination is deemed to occur if the effect of an action impairs or restricts a person’s rights, even if the actor did not intend this
(3) Government must not discriminate against any person on the basis of age, race, colour, tribe, ethnicity, culture, dialect, gender, birth,
disability, religion, political opinion, occupation, or wealth.
(4) All government programs, such as laws, or political and administrative actions that are designed to achieve full equality for individuals
or groups who are disadvantaged, or who have suffered from discrimination in the past, shall not be deemed to be discriminatory.
Article 12. Application of the Fundamental Rights
(1) The fundamental rights and freedoms recognized in this Chapter shall always be respected in the making and application of the law.
Likewise, they must be respected by all individuals and private organisations, as well as by every state institution and state official as they
carry out their official functions.
(2) It is the responsibility of the state not only to ensure it does not violate rights through its actions, but also to take reasonable steps to
protect the rights of the people from abuse by others.
(3) The rights recognized in this Chapter may be limited only by a law as provided for in Article 38.
Title 2: Rights, basic personal liberties and its limitations
Article 13. Right to Life
Everyone has the right to life.
Article 14. Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour
A person may not be subjected to slavery, servitude, trafficking, or forced labour for any purpose.
Article 15. Liberty and Security of the Person
(1) Every person has the right to personal liberty and security.
(2) Every person has the right to personal security, which shall be safeguarded through the prohibition of illegal detention, all forms of
violence, including any form of violence against women, torture, or inhumane treatment.
(3) The physical integrity of every person is inviolable. No one may be subjected to medical or scientific experiments without their
consent or, if a person lacks the legal capacity to consent, the consent of a near relative and the support of expert medical opinion.
(4) Circumcision of girls is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.
(5) Abortion is contrary to Shari’ah and is prohibited except in cases of necessity, especially to save the life of the mother.
Article 16. Freedom of Association
Every person has the right to associate with other individuals and groups. This includes the right to form and belong to organizations,
including trade unions and political parties. It also includes the right not to associate with others, and a person cannot be forced to
associate with individuals or groups.
Article 17. Freedom of Religion and Belief
(1) Every person is free to practice his or her religion.
(2) No religion other than Islam can be propagated in the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Article 18. Freedom of Expression and Opinions
(1) Every person has the right to have and express their opinions and to receive and impart their opinion, information and ideas in any way.
(2) Freedom of expression includes freedom of speech, and freedom of the media, including all forms of electronic and web-based media.
(3) Every person has the right to freely express their artistic creativity, knowledge, and information gathered through research.
Article 19. Inviolability of Home
(1) The home and other dwellings of the person shall be inviolable, and their entry, search or surveillance shall not be allowed without a
reasoned order from a judge.
(2) Any such order must be read properly to the occupier of the dwelling before entry, and the inspecting authority is prohibited to violate
Article 20. Freedom of Assembly, Demonstration, Protest and Petition
(1) Every person has the right to organize and participate in meetings, and to demonstrate and protest peacefully, without requiring prior
(2) Every person has the right to present petitions to governmental institutions.
Article 21. Freedom of Movement and Residence
(1) Every person lawfully residing within the territory of the Federal Republic of Somalia has the right to freedom of movement, freedom
to choose their residence, and freedom to leave the country.
(2) Every citizen has the right to enter and to remain in the country, and has the right to a passport.
Article 22. Right of Political Participation
(1) Every citizen has the right to take part in public affairs. This right includes:
(a) The right to form political parties and to participate in the activities of political parties;
(b) The right to be elected for any position within a political party.
(2) Every citizen who fulfils the criteria stated in the law has the right to elect and to be elected.
(3) The rights stated in Paragraph (1) and (2) should be exercised in accordance with this Constitution and a law enacted by the Federal
Article 23. Freedom of Trade, Occupation and Profession
Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely.
Article 24. Labour Relations
(1) Every person has the right to fair labour relations.
(2) Every worker has the right to form and join a trade union and to participate in the activities of a trade union.
(3) Every worker has the right to strike.
(4) Every trade union or employers’ organization or employer has the right to engage in collective bargaining regarding labour-related
(5) All workers, particularly women, shall have a special right of protection from sexual abuse, segregation and discrimination in the work
place. Every labour law and practice shall comply with gender equality in the work place.
Article 25. Environment
(1) Every person has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, and to be protected from pollution and
(2) Every person has the right to have a share of the natural resources of the country, whilst being protected from excessive and
damaging exploitation of these natural resources.
Article 26. Property
(1) Every person has the right to own, use, enjoy, sell, and transfer property.
(2) The state may only compulsorily acquire property if doing so is in the public interest. Any person whose property has been acquired in
the name of the public interest has the right to just compensation from the government as agreed by the parties or decided by a court.
Article 27. Economic and Social Rights
(1) Every person has the right to clean potable water.
(2) Every person has the right to healthcare, and no one may be denied emergency healthcare for any reason, including lack of economic
(3) Every person has the right to full social security,
(4) Every person has the right to protect, pursue, and achieve the fulfillment of the rights recognised in this Article, in accordance with
the law, and without interference from the state or any other party.
(5) It shall be ensured that women, the aged, the disabled and minorities who have long suffered discrimination get the necessary support
to realize their socio-economic rights.
Article 28. Family Care
(1) Marriage is the basis of the family, which is the foundation of society. Its protection is a legal duty of the state.
(2) Mother and child care is a legal duty of the state.
(3) Every child has the right to care from their parents, including education and instruction. In instances where this care is not available
from the family, it must be provided by others.
This right applies to street children and children of unknown parents, the rights of whom the state has a particular duty to fulfill and
(4) Adults have a duty to support their parents if the parents are unable to care for themselves.
(5) No marriage shall be legal without the free consent of both the man and the woman, or if one or both of them have not reached the
age of maturity.
Article 29. Children
(1) Every child has the right to a good and righteous name and a nationality from birth.
(2) Every child has the right to be protected from mistreatment, neglect, abuse, or degradation.
(3) No child may perform work or provide services that are not suitable for the child’s age or create a risk to the child’s health or
development in any way.
(4) Every child may be detained only as a last resort, for a limited time, in appropriate conditions, and must be detained separately from
adults with the exception of the child’s immediate family. The child’s immediate family must be informed of the child’s detention as soon
(5) Every child shall have the right to legal aid paid for by the state if the child might otherwise suffer injustice.
(6) Every child has the right to be protected from armed conflict, and not to be used in armed conflict.
(7) In every matter concerning a child, the child’s best interests are of paramount importance.
(8) In this Article a “child” is defined as any person under 18 years of age.
Article 30. Education
(1) Education is a basic right for all Somali citizens.
(2) Every citizen shall have the right to free education up to secondary school.
(3) The government shall give priority to the development, expansion and extension of public education.
(4) Private schools, institutes and universities shall be established according to law and in line with the educational program and academic
curricula of the country.
(5) The government shall encourage the promotion of research, creativity, and arts, and the advancement of cultural and traditional
dances and sports and shall promote the positive customs and traditions of the Somali people.
(6) The government shall adopt a standardized curriculum across all schools of the country, and shall ensure its implementation.
(7) The government shall promote higher education, technical institutes, and technology and research institutions.
(8) The teaching of Islam shall be compulsory for pupils in both public and private schools. Schools owned by non-Muslims shall be
exempted from these measures.
Article 31. Language and Culture
(1) The state shall promote the positive traditions and cultural practices of the Somali people, whilst striving to eliminate from the
community customs and emerging practices which negatively impact the unity, civilization and wellbeing of society.
(2) The state shall collect, protect and preserve the country’s historic objects and sites, whilst developing the know-how and technology
that shall enable the fulfillment of such an obligation.
(3) The state shall promote the cultural practices and local dialects of minorities.
(4) The rights mentioned in this Article shall be implemented in accordance with the fundamental rights recognized in this Constitution.
Article 32. Right of Access to Information
(1) Every person has the right of access to information held by the state.
(2) Every person has the right of access to any information that is held by another person which is required for the exercise or protection
of any other just right.
(3) Federal Parliament shall enact a law to ensure the right of access to information.
Article 33. Just Administrative Decisions
Every person has the right to administrative decisions which are lawful, reasonable and conducted in a procedurally fair manner.
Article 34. Access to Courts
(1) Every person is entitled to file a legal case before a capable court.
(2) Every person has the right to a fair public hearing by an independent and impartial court or tribunal, to be held within a reasonable
time, and to determine:
(a) Any question of civil rights and obligations; or
(b) Any criminal charge.
(3) Every person is entitled to defend him or herself from the case he or she is party to, whatever the level or stage of the proceedings
(4) The state shall provide free legal defense to the people who do not have the means of doing so themselves.
(5) The state shall provide free legal defense to individuals or communities if they are legally pursuing the public interest.
Article 35. The Right of the Accused
(1) The accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a final manner by a court of law.
(2) Every person arrested or detained has the right to be informed promptly of the reason for their arrest or detention in a language which
the person understands.
(3) Every person arrested or detained shall have the right for his or her family and relatives to be informed of his or her situation.
(4) Every person may not be compelled to self-incriminate, and a verdict may not be based on evidence acquired by means of coercion.
(5) Every person who is arrested has the right to be brought before a capable court within 48 hours of the arrest.
(6) Every person who is arrested or detained has the right to choose, and to consult with, a legal practitioner and if he or she cannot
afford one, the government must appoint a legal practitioner for him or her.
(7) Every person brought before a court of law for an alleged criminal offence is entitled to a fair trial.
(8) The accused has the right to be present at their trial.
(9) The accused has the right to challenge the evidence presented against him or her.
(10) The accused has the right to an interpreter if the accused person does not understand the language being used in the court.
(11) The accused cannot be kept in an illegal detention centre, and must be granted visits by his or her family, doctor or lawyer.
(12) Criminal liability is a personal matter and no person may be convicted of a criminal offence for an act committed by another person.
(13) No person may be convicted of a crime for committing an act that was not an offence at the time it was committed, unless it is a
crime against humanity under international law.
Article 36. Extradition of the Accused and Criminals
(1) Any person that has been accused or convicted may only be extradited in a manner prescribed by law and on the basis of an
international treaty or convention which the Federal Republic of Somalia is party to, and which obliges the Somali Federal Government to
extradite the accused or convicted.
(2) Any accused or convicted person shall only be extradited in accordance with international law and practice, and on the basis of
legislation governing extradition, which has been passed by the Federal Parliament.
Article 37. Refugees and Asylum
(1) Every person who has sought refuge in the Federal Republic of Somalia has the right not to be returned or taken to any country in
which that person has a well-founded fear of persecution.
(2) The Federal Parliament shall enact legislation in compliance with international law, regulating refugees and asylum seekers.
Article 38. Limitation of Rights
(1) The rights set out in this Chapter may be limited by law, provided that the law is not targeted at particular individuals or groups.
(2) This right may be limited by law, or by specific exceptions in this Chapter, only if that limitation is demonstrably reasonable and
justified according to the values underlying this constitution.
(3) In deciding whether a limitation is reasonable and justifiable, all relevant factors must be taken into account.
(4) The relevant factors in terms of Clause 3 include the nature and importance of the right limited, the importance of the purpose to be
achieved by the limitation, whether the limitation is suitable for achieving the purpose, and whether the same purpose could be achieved
while being less restrictive of the rights limited.
(5) Possible restriction of fundamental rights during a state of emergency is dealt with in Chapter 14, Article 131 of this Constitution.
Article 39. Redress of Violations of Human Rights
(1) The law shall provide for adequate procedures for redress of violations of human rights.
(2) Redress of violations of human rights must be available in courts that the people can readily access.
(3) A person or organization may go to court to protect the rights of others who are unable to do so for themselves.
Article 40. Interpretation of the Fundamental Rights
(1) When interpreting the rights set out in this Chapter, a court shall take an approach that seeks to achieve the purposes of the rights and
the values that underlie them.
(2) In interpreting these rights, the court may consider the Shari’ah, international law, and decisions of courts in other countries, though it
is not bound to follow these decisions.
(3) When interpreting and applying the law generally, a court or any tribunal shall consider the relevance of the provisions of this Chapter,
and make its decisions compatible with these provisions, as far as is possible.
(4) The recognition of the fundamental rights set out in this Chapter does not deny the existence of any other rights that are recognized or
conferred by Shari'ah, or by customary law or legislation to the extent that they are consistent with the Shari'ah and the Constitution.
Article 41. Human Rights Commission
(1) The Federal Parliament shall establish a Human Rights Commission that is independent of government control, and has adequate
resources to carry out its functions effectively.
(2) The functions of the Human Rights Commission shall include the promotion of knowledge of human rights, and specifically Shari’ah,
setting implementation standards and parameters for the fulfillment of human rights obligations, monitoring human rights within the
country, and investigating allegations of human rights violations.
Little is know of the pre-historic population of Somalia but the region was referred to by the
ancient Greeks as the two regions of the Berber Coast and Azania which were active trading
societies from antiquity. Islam was introduced in the 13th century which peacefully
coexisted with Christian Ethiopia for centuries which controlled much of northern Somalia.
Control of the entire region was achieved by Ethiopia in 1415 where the first mention of
"Somali" is recorded. The Islamic State reachieved independence in 1527 with Ottoman
assistance. Portuguese influence took hold in 1543 when they assisted Ethiopia in
reconquering Somalia from the Sultanates which forced the Kingdom to break into smaller
tribes which eventually consolidated into the Ajuuraan Dynasty which dominated until the
end of the 17th Century and yielded to the Geledi Sultanate of Oman and the Ottoman Empire
which took control of the entire Horn of Africa in 1728, declining by 1850. Italy took control of
Southern Somalia in 1875 as the British controlled the west. Resistance to colonization
began as early as 1899 by the Dervish. Italy conquered British Somaliland in 1940 but
reclaimed by the British in 1941 who established a protectorate in Somaliland until 1949
when trusteeship was turned over by the United Nations to Italy. Independence was
achieved in 1959 but on-going conflict with Ethiopia, a variety of coups and civil wars have
left Somalia as virtually an ungoverned state. The prior constitution was adopted on 23
September 1979 but had been inoperable in the absence of a working government. Rather, a
United Nations mandated and engineered transitional government operated under a
Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic which was adopted in February 2004. A
provisional constitution was adopted by a Constituent Assembly on 01 August 2012.
Human rights are enumerated beginning with CHAPTER 2: FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND
THE DUTIES OF THE CITIZEN, conform with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human
Rights of which Somalia is a signatory and are detailed below. For a full English translation
of Somalia's Provisional Constitution, click here.