By Staff Writer
Kicker: Partners of goodwill must help Somalia punish corrupt officials and return its stolen wealth
Commonplace economic crimes, often perpetrated by corrupt business entities, cost Somalia billions of dollars annually. The perpetrators take advantage of the near-total collapse of the Federal Government of Somalia to loot the country dry. This sad and infuriating scheme of things is made worse by a weak customs regime that lets everything and anything get into the country, resulting in millions upon millions of counterfeit into our borders.
Somalia is a lucrative counterfeits destination. Somalis lament is that friends and kin are dying from consuming substandard medical products. “Expired and fake drugs have killed more than bombs and rockets have. These drugs are silent killers,” Doctor Osman Mohamud Dufle says in a past interview. “A bomb may kill 10 or 20 people, but the drugs on our shelves are worse; they will kill hundreds of people and no one will hear about it.”
Elected leaders, business cartels committing these crimes are in breach of trust and they must never be tolerated. The money they steal only serves to fund immorally flashy lifestyle of a few at the expense of the many. And because the suffering of Somalis does not affect the governments of the people or governments abroad where the stolen loot is stowed away, these cartels proceed unpunished.
Turkey, USA, UK, Malaysia and UAE are popular destinations for corrupt Somali officials, who have bought property there. With a solid co-operation agreement in place, those countries can help in confiscating the loot within their borders for repatriation.
The international community can also begin to put the spotlight and pressure on Somalia’s thieves by imposing crippling sanctions, to ensure the loot does not find its way out of Somalia. If they have nowhere to take their ill-gotten wealth, it will be that much easier for our justice system to deal with them locally.
The US, for example, has been known to impose sanctions on individuals known or suspected to be involved in corruption and human rights abuses – it recently did against a Kenyan senator and former attorney general, Amos Wako over his involvement in the Anglo Leasing Scandal.
It has previously done the same for senior officials in Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s strongman regime. These punitive measures range from simple visa restrictions/blacklists, to crippling asset freezes, fines, and even expatriation for trial and sentencing prison terms.
Warsan Magazine’s attempts to reach out to the US Embassy in Somalia to ask why its government has been so far been disinterested on economic crimes going on in Somalia, without success.
Unfortunately, violations continue to happen under the watch of the international community, which prefers not to “interfere” in internal matters when it suits them. In some instances, in fact, the international community is an enabler of such atrocities. On the financial front, European banks are the conduit through which national wealth is channeled and stored. As a matter of fact, Europe and the US are the favorite destinations of the thieves of Somalia’s wealth.
The icing on this vile cake are arms traffickers, who are the ones that fan and fund motley warmongers and mongrels that have become the enduring bane on Somalia’s developmental aspirations. With an arms embargo imposed on Somalia, militia groups depend on arms dealers to perpetuate their thirst for blood. Even with the United Nations supposedly keen on ending civil strife in the country, it is curious that it has never gotten around to naming and going after known arms dealers.
To cap it all, it would be a fitting gesture if Somalia and international partners co-operated to build a robust judicial system in Somalia to try and bring to justice the facilitators of historical crimes and injustices. For the nation to heal, victims need closure, and nothing achieves this objective best than to see criminals pay for their offending deeds.