[Country Profile Page]
|Social and Moral Index||195th best|
|Life Expectancy||55.28yrs (2017)2|
Somalia is amongst the very worst places in the world at ensuring any human rights and freedoms, and it has severe cultural issues when it comes to tolerance and equality. Somalia does worse than average when it comes to its nominal commitment to Human Rights3 (amongst the lowest in Africa) and in freethought4 (amongst the worst in Africa). It falls into the worst 20 in commentary in Human Rights Watch reports5, supporting press freedom6 (one of the worst in Africa) and in speed of uptake of HR treaties7 (one of the highest in Africa). And finally, it is second-from-the-bottom in LGBT equality8. "Somalia´s armed conflict, abuses by all warring parties, and a new humanitariancrisis [continues] to take a devastating toll on civilians9". The country has no moral anchor nor effective defenders of human rights; where protections exist, they are often part of the problem rather than a good solution; for example, sexual violence is classified as being against "honour" and "modesty" rather than being fundamentally wrong in its own right9 and Shariah courts are sometimes permitted to take place instead of ordinary judicial processes. Much needs to change, and it cannot all be blamed on historical issues: prejudice against LGBT folk is a result of poor moral thinking, not a result of poverty or conflict.
|Compared to Africa (2020)10|
|Pos.||Lower is better|
|Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)10|
|Pos.||Lower is better|
The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Norway and Denmark11. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Somalia and Tuvalu11.
The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the rate of gender bias (from 7 indicators), the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe11, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia11.
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Amnesty International's 2023-23 summary on human rights in Somalia stated:
“All parties to Somalia‚€ôs conflict continued to commit serious violations of international humanitarian law with impunity. Al Shabaab increased its unlawful attacks against civilians. Conflict along with severe drought caused by lack of rain led to the displacement of over 1.8 million people and a new wave of humanitarian crisis. Internally displaced people faced significant human rights violations; women and girls were particularly exposed to gender-based violence. The government increased the health budget but healthcare provision remained poor and access to water, sanitation and food was severely inadequate. Freedom of expression was restricted, and journalists were attacked, beaten and arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted. Media houses were suspended. In Somaliland, authorities severely restricted the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.”
"The State of the World's Human Rights 2022/23" by Amnesty International (2023)12
|Human Rights Watch Comments|
Higher is better5
|109||Central African Rep.||-8|
Human Rights Watch comments concentrate mostly on negative issues, however, they also make positive comments for those countries that engage in human rights defence around the world, or who make improvements at home. By adding up positive and negative comments (including double-points for negatives that involve large scales and crimes against humanity), the Social and Moral Index turns HRW commentary into quantified values. Some countries may be unfairly penalized because HRW have not examined them, and, some countries "get away" with abuses if they manage to hide it, or if it goes unnoticed - a negative point has been given for those countries in which HRW specifically state that access to investigators has been barred. The points were limited to a minimum of -10 because there are some points at which things are so bad, with abuses affecting so many, it is difficult to be more specific about the depths of the issues.
|Nominal Commitment to HR|
Higher is better3
|178||Sao Tome & Principe||7|
There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.
|HR Treaties Lag|
Lower is better7
|191||Sao Tome & Principe||16.17|
Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.
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Lower is better6
The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world, and is linked with Freedom of Speech and Good Governance. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted". The rankings are used as one of the datasets of the Social and Moral Development Index13
It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".
Lower is better14
The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory15. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends16. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life17. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves18.
The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery19. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity20. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.
'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.21. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi22, Eritrea22, Indonesia23) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery24.
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The 1950s saw a late rush of 43 countries, including Somalia and many developing nations, move to cease preventing women from voting.
|Year Women Can Vote|
Lower is better
Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.
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Higher is better8
Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence25. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws26. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries25. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.
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|Freedom of Thought|
Lower is better4
Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights27. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish28. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era29 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted30. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief31. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands4,32 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia4,33.
Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed34. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief28, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion35 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"36 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.
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When it comes to religious freedom and persecution, sociologists Grim & Finke place Somalia into the worst category, along with just 13 other countries. In this category, severe restrictions on religious freedom and freedom of belief stem simultaneously from top-down pressure from government and institutionalized religion, and from bottom-up grassroots movements that often go even further than the government in harassing those who do not believe the right things (2011)37.