The Government of Somalia has adopted a new national policy on internally displaced persons (IDPs), and refugee-returnees. The first of its kind, the policy seeks to provide rights-based solutions for the protection of all Somali citizens.
In 2012 a Somali government took office with international backing, after two decades of anarchy and warfare. Supported by African Union peacekeeping troops, the government is seeking to extend its jurisdiction over areas of the country still controlled by Islamist militias.
As a consequence of conflict, Somalia's development and humanitarian indicators remain among the lowest in the world. IDLO is helping build and strengthen institutions, as a precondition to improving the lives of Somali citizens. This work includes supporting the judicial system and contributing to the Constitution-making process.
Over 30 paralegals from Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia and Uganda as well as various community justice experts convened to advocate for the critical role and contribution that paralegal support networks play in raising legal awareness and supporting access to justice for all, at a regional forum held in Nairobi on July 22-25, 2019.
As a result of the combined military offensive of the Somali National Army and African Union Mission in Somalia with international support, the Al Shabaab extremist group has been significantly degraded and forced into retreat. Al Shabaab’s emergence, and support, particularly among marginalized communities, was and is still to a large extent fueled by both inter and intra-clan conflicts and lack of justice.
Lack of access to a fair and equitable justice system is one of the most pressing problems confronting modern Somalia on its path towards stability and reconstruction. Informal justice systems, offering alternative dispute resolution are often much better placed to respond to the immediate justice needs of many Somalis seeking justice, as they have more legitimacy and are more easily accessible. To enhance access to justice in Somalia, it is therefore essential to engage with the alternative dispute resolution systems.
In Somalia, alternative justice mechanisms remain the main providers of justice services for lack of formal justice institutions. However, these justice mechanisms can be discriminatory particularly against women, youth and minority clans.
Prosecutors, judges and investigators in Somalia are undergoing specialized training to handle cases on complex crimes with the support of IDLO.
Somalia is striving to strengthen its institutions and to improve the rule of law, however high levels of crime persist. These include forms of complex crimes, namely extremist violence and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
Over 50 women judges, representing chapters of the International Association of Women Judges across the African continent, convened to discuss the critical role and contribution women justice professionals play in adjudicating cases of gender-based violence at a regional conference in Nairobi from November 29 to December 1, 2018.
As part of IDLO’s continuous commitment to accountability and results-based management, IDLO is pleased to share this Evaluation Brief for the project, "Strengthening Linkages Between Formal Justice System and Traditional Dispute Resolution System to Improve Access to Justice - Phase II". The evaluation has been conducted by independent evaluation experts, supervised by IDLO’s Evaluation Unit.
While showing steady progress, the formal justice system in Somalia remains fragile. Somalis continue to use traditional dispute resolution (TDR) mechanisms to resolve conflicts in their communities due to their physical accessibility, low cost and legitimacy in the eyes of local participants. The TDR system has the potential to improve access to justice in Somalia, but at the same time informal justice can reinforce forms of discrimination and support practices that do not comply with international human rights standards.
In 2012, the Federal Government of Somalia took office with international backing after two decades of warfare. Since then, the government has developed a National Stabilization Strategy (NSS) to address enduring areas of conflict in the country with ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ reconciliation and clan-conflict reduction strategies. While commendable for its multifaceted response, there is a recognized need to improve rule of law at the community level.
An effective prosecution service is critical to the provision of justice, stability and peace in Somalia. But the absence of a robust, independent and competent prosecutorial service has contributed to a climate of impunity, increasing the proliferation of both low-level and serious crimes, including terrorism, corruption and gender-based violence throughout Somalia.
Terrorism trials in Somalia have overwhelmingly been conducted in military courts under military laws that do not afford rights to the accused as enshrined in international human rights law or the Somali Provisional Constitution. Recognizing the weakness of the current system and the security threat posed by Somalia’s overloaded prison capacity, the Government of Somalia has decided to move the bulk of the current serious crimes caseload and all future caseloads to the civilian criminal court system.
The protracted civil war and the weak state control over territory in Somalia has enabled new criminal activities to take hold, including illegal checkpoints, maritime piracy, cybercrimes, money laundering and counterfeiting, human trafficking, extortion, terrorist financing, and the smuggling of weapons and food over Somalia’s porous borders. The Somali Federal Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and national police are well aware of these newer forms of criminality plaguing Somalia, but are unable to effectively combat them.
After 20 years of civil war, Somalia remains in the grip of a major human security crisis, with violence and widespread poverty. To address the justice needs of the people of Somalia, particularly members of vulnerable groups, IDLO is working to build the capacity of the private bar to adequately represent clients’ interests and rights in the justice system.
IDLO has been assisting the Ministry of Justice in developing a framework to enshrine the rule of law. In particular, we collaborated with the Ministry, the judiciary and other institutions to develop of a two-year Justice Sector Action Plan. The initiative was designed to help strengthen institutional capacity lay the foundations for a sustainable and effective justice system.
IDLO is working to support the endorsement of Somalia’s Provisional Constitution. In the first half of 2012, we helped produce a comparative analysis of the new draft Constitution, the Constitution of 1960 and the Transitional Federal Charter of 2004, with recommendations for changes where appropriate. The Provisional Constitution was adopted in 2012. The constitution-making process is set to continue until 2016, with the resulting document put to a public referendum.