Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged the Somali government to investigate alleged human rights abuses by a former deputy leader of the militant group al-Shabab who surrendered to the government this week.
"International law prohibits amnesties for those responsible for grave abuses. Mukhtar Robow had a leadership role in al-Shabaab at a time when we documented indiscriminate attacks on civilians, forced recruitment of children and other abuses against residents under the group's control," it said in a statement.
The Somali government needs to investigate Robow's role and ensure that those responsible for the worst abuses are not able to escape just punishment, it added.
Mukhtar Robow Ali, also known as Abu Mansur, officially announced Tuesday that he left al-Shabab more than five years ago.
"I fell out with the group over ideological differences five years and seven months ago" he said at a news conference in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
"I was living in the Bakol region and al-Shabab attacked me there. They tried to kill me, but I defended myself," he added.
The Somali government said it welcomed Robow's confirmation that he defected from al-Shabab.