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UK Says AMISOM Complies With Rights, But Kenya Navy Not Part of AMISOM

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 18, updated -- As Kenya's navy has been shelling and "softening up" Kismayo in Somalia, and in the process killing at least three civilians, Inner City Press has repeatedly asked the UN what safeguards are in place.

  After pointing out that the Kenyan navy is not part of the UN-assisted AMISOM mission, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky finally pointed back to a three week old statement by the UN's humanitarian Mark Bowden.

  But given the UN's role in funding AMISOM, with which the Kenyan naval shelling is clearly coordinated, doesn't the UN have a greater role?

   On Tuesday morning Inner City Press asked UK Permanent Representative Mark Lyall Grant about the shelling, after he described the just-passed Security Council resolution and upcoming summit meeting at the UN.

   Lyall Grant said the Kenya's ground troops are part of AMISOM, but the "Kenyan navy assets" are not. He said he would not speak to the timetable for re-taking Kismayo from Al Shabab, which he called "a longstanding objective that will be pursued."

  Inner City Press asked, since the Kenyan navy is clearly coordinating with the Council authorized (and UN funded) AMISOM, what safeguards are in place?

  Lyall Grant said the issue goes beyond Somalia, whenever regional organizations are authorized by the Council in this way.

  He said while less direct than with UN blue helmets (or berets), AMISOM is still expected to comply with human rights, and he said "we have not reasons to believe that they are not doing so."

  But what about the Kenyan Navy and its shelling?

  There was previously a dispute in the Security Council about whether to fund the Kenyan naval component, or at least its maintenance. Did declining to provide that funding leave this de facto component outside any human rights safeguards?
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Here is the UK Mission transcript:

Inner City Press: you mentioned Al-Shabaab, and there’s been a lot of reports in recent days of the Kenyan Army and AMISOM closing in on Kismayo, and also some shelling from ships that are said to be in the Kenyan Navy. I’m wondering 1) what you can say about this kind of end game with Al-Shabaab, but a question arose, whether the Kenyan navy was part of AMISOM, was it ever approved by the Council, are you paying for the ships, and if, what safeguards are in place for this, essentially, shelling into Kismayo that some people say has killed at least three civilians?
Amb. Lyall Grant: “Well, it has always been a long term objective of both AMISOM and the Somali authorities to take back control of Kismayo from Al-Shabaab. I’m not going to comment on the timetable for that, or the plans for that. But that is clearly an objective and it’s an objective that will be pursued. In terms of the Kenyan naval assets, they are not formally part of AMISOM. The Kenyan troops since June, when the MoU was signed with the African Union, have become part of AMISOM and are being funded accordingly. But the Kenyan naval assets are funded by the Kenyans and are not part of AMISOM.”
Inner City Press: something I’ve been trying to figure out for a few days. Since it’s working obviously in coordination with AMISOM, and there are at least reports, Human Rights Watch put out a report that a pregnant woman and two children were killed by the shelling, how does the Council ensure that something that’s part of a mission that it authorised, that there’s human rights monitoring, and safeguards in place for the whole operation, and not only part of it.
Amb. Lyall Grant: “Well, that is a general challenge that goes beyond the case of Somalia. There are other examples of regional organisations that are authorised, mandated, by the Security Council to take action. Now obviously, when it is a full UN peacekeeping operation with blue berets, there is a more direct control on the part of the UN system and on the part of the Security Council on issues like human rights. With the case of AMISOM, it is a more distant, hands off relationship. But nonetheless, it is a UN authorised mission and we do expect AMISOM to abide by international standards of human rights and humanitarian law, and we have no reason to think that they are not doing so.”

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