Camel Justice?

In January, a Somali national working for the UN’s World Food Program, Ibrahim Hussein Duale, was shot and killed. Murdering aid workers is, unfortunately, not uncommon in Somalia; what would be more unusual is for the perpetrator to be brought to justice. And even more unusual would be if the party dispensing justice were itself an extremist militant group with a history of killing UN aid workers. Yet

An Islamic court in southern Somalia on Tuesday sentenced a man who had killed a United Nations aid worker to pay the victim’s family 100 female camels as compensation. The defendant pleaded guilty to the murder of a senior World Food Program official. The trial took place in a region that is under the control of the Shabab, a hard-line Islamist group, and its allies.

I suppose it’s also unusual that payment in 100 female camels is the method of meting out justice, but that is no small sum. And this is a group that routinely kills UN aid workers that we’re talking about.

(image from flickr user Somali Nomad under a Creative Commons license)