“Before we had to send the samples to Kenya or Ethiopia. Sometimes they were destroyed on their way there, and it took weeks to get the results. Now we get the results reliably and quickly,” says Dahil Ali in the first and brand new forensic laboratory in Puntland, Somalia.
Ali analyses, for example, DNA samples that are used as evidence in rape and sexual offence cases. It is rare that sex offenders are brought to justice in Somalia. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is creating a system in the country that helps to bring offenders to justice. In addition to the laboratory, efforts were made to open a centre in Puntland’s biggest public hospital in Garowe to provide victims with medical and psychological help and legal assistance to bring their cases to court. In 2016 Puntland adopted the first law that criminalises sexual offences. The first rape cases have already been brought to court.
In addition to this support to UNFPA, Finland supports through the UN the training of the Somalian police force on how to detect and deal with sexual offences. Particular efforts have been made to support the training of women as police officers, because for cultural reasons female victims only want to talk to female police officers about the violence they experienced. The first female police officers are now working in the Somalian police force and they serve as role models for other women.
Photo: Joonas Lehtipuu, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta