The United States on Tuesday admitted killing innocent civilians in Somalia but has failed to compensate the families of the victims, a failure Amnesty International has condemned.
The official admission was contained in a quarterly civilian casualty assessment report issued on Tuesday by the U.S. Africa Command.
Brian Castner, the Senior Crisis Advisor for arms and military operations at Amnesty International said the admission is the third case they have substantiated in 13 years of air strikes in the country.
“Today’s report is the first time AFRICOM has substantiated a report of civilian casualties in Somalia investigated by Amnesty International. This admission is the third case they have substantiated in 13 years of air strikes in the country. Now that there has been an acknowledgment of their actions, there must be accountability and reparations for the victims and their families,” Castner wrote in a statement.
“While AFRICOM has made tentative progress in acknowledging civilian casualties, they now need to prevent these civilian casualties in the first place, as well as ensuring their own transparency and accountability mechanisms. It is not up to human rights and other organizations to investigate and request accountability for every strike by the U.S. military.”
Over a year ago, following a ground-breaking Amnesty International report, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) pledged to review all of its operations in Somalia to assess whether it had misreported civilian casualties.
Although the outcome of that review has not been made public, that process led to AFRICOM issuing quarterly reports, in which, today, they have acknowledged killing a civilian woman and injuring three of her family members in Jilib town on February 2, 2020. Today’s report assessed civilian casualty allegations from 11 incidents, “closes” seven and leaves four open and under review.
AFRICOM has carried out at least 189 airstrikes in Somalia since 2017 including 42 so far in 2020. In just nine of those airstrikes, Amnesty International found 21 civilians were killed and 11 others were injured.
Since April last year, AFRICOM has admitted to killing five Somali civilians and injuring six others in three separate airstrikes, however none of those families or victims have been compensated by the command.