IDLO Somalia Country Director Adam-Shirwa Jama told a Washington roundtable hosted by the United States Institute of Peace that reform of the justice system had begun in Somalia. While it would take time for justice institutions to reach the whole of the country, Mr. Jama said, IDLO was encouraged by the international support given to these nascent institutions.
The roundtable – held on June 8, 2015 – brought together experts from the US government, civil society and the private sector to discuss the rule of law in Somalia, including the local reconciliation process, improving linkages between the formal and informal justice systems, and how justice sector reform can support peace and stability.
Mr. Jama pointed out that, while showing steady progress, the formal justice system in Somalia remained fragile, suffering from significant human and resource constraints. However, he spoke positively about traditional dispute resolution (TDR) used by the majority of Somalis, and the progress being made to facilitate its interface with the formal justice system.
“Due to its physical accessibility, low cost and legitimacy in the eyes of local stakeholders, the TDR system has the potential to improve access to justice in Somalia,” Mr. Jama said.
IDLO has worked in Somalia since 2012 to strengthen justice institutions and increase the confidence of Somali citizens in the justice sector. Examples of existing projects include: improving the compliance of traditional dispute resolution mechanisms with Somali national laws and the Provisional Constitution; delivering specialized legal trainings in criminal and civil law; mentoring members of key institutions within the Somali justice system; supporting the Somali Bar Association; and assisting Somali civil society to monitor and advocate for action against critical human rights violations, including gender-based violence.