Somalis against corruption

By Ali Osman


Somalis are paying bribes to clear their merchandize from the Mogadishu port. The country’s national assets“wireless spectrum” is in the hands of few telecom companies. Government contracts are awarded in non-transparent ways. Even, the Hajj a religious obligation for all able bodies are in the whims of private firm rather than ministry of Religious Affairs. Government information is not available to the Somali people and the media their constitution right. Why this worries me?

In any attempt to explain the causes of something as complex as civil war in Somalia, one must take into consideration the many causes internal and external,  but there is significant body of research that indicates the chief causes of civil wars and state failures is that corruption is allowed to flourish and prevail prior to state collapse.

Any study of the causes of the Somalia civil war must take into account the role corruption and all its forms-extrajudicial killing, bribery, tribalism, criminality, nepotism, extortion, and petty crimesplayed in the collapse of Somalia and following two decades of civil war.

“States fail when they are perceived as illegitimate or cannot deliver essential services to citizens, and corruption thrives in failed states, where elites or government officials seize control of public funds and withhold benefits from the public or demand bribes in order for citizens to receive benefits.”-Eric Ma: Corruption as an Indicator of a Failed State

Somalia prior to the civil war, corruption prevailed, public funds were directed for personal gains, political opponents eliminated, entire villages bombarded,  nepotism and tribalism replaced  good governance, rule of law, justice, and human rights.

The Somali Government focus is about security and rightly so. However, I am afraid the security situation has put framework for accountability on hold. Somalia cannot reach long term security, economic development and progress without amechanism to report corruption and system in place to investigate, audit and prosecute an acts of corruption by government officials.

Here are possible tool kits that would be useful in creating a roadmap for Anticorruption Framework and Accountability in Somalia.

Corruption Law:Somalia is a signatory of the United Nations Convention against Corruption which was entered into force on 14 December 2005. The convention criminalizes many forms of corruption and can be the bases for comprehensive corruption law.

Corruption Reporting System:There are many ways to report bribery and corruption such as reporting to a telephone hotline, calling a special commission, or through a website like This particular website collects anonymous reports of bribes paid by citizens mainly in India and around the world. The website is maintained by  a non for profit organization.  There are other means such as  Twitter, WhatsApp that are being used and experimented with positive results but there must be a willingness from the government and the people to tackle corruption.

Corruption Investigation and Auditing: There are abundance of literature and techniques in conducting corruption investigation and auditing.  For instance, the United Nations Office On Drug and Crime has published Anti-Corruption Tool Kit available at The USAID has country specific guides such as Anticorruption Investigation and Trial Guide for Nepal available here There are many others.

Corruption Prosecution:Corruption Prosecution is a subject for prosecutors and lawyers. The United Nations Handbook On Practical Anticorruption Measures for Prosecutors and Investigators available here is a good starting point.

Countries learn from their tragic history and establish laws and monuments that prevents them to fall into similar situation in their future. An example is the Nazi Germany,  the Rwandan Genocide,  and  The American Civil war. Where is the history learned from the Somali civil war? We are already seeing corruption rearing its ugly head and my hope is we have suffered long enough as a people to be indifferent to corruption. We must act and act now.


Ali Osman

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