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.
IDLO’s Country Director for Somalia Adam-Shirwa Jama, responds to IDLO LinkedIn group members' questions:
Many thanks to the members for your interest in IDLO’s work in Somalia. Apologies if we didn’t manage to answer all your questions, we’ll arrange another session in the near future.
A country previously described as ‘the world’s most failed state,’ Somalia has yet to shed this image. This week alone has brought reports of a return to piracy in the north of the country, insurgent attacks on African Union troops in the south, and a rise in the need for emergency food aid.
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.
by Christopher Kerkering
IDLO is hosting a customary justice workshop in Mogadishu this week in conjunction with the Somali Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Taking part are elders from four districts of Somalia.
ISTANBUL, May 31st/June 1st -- IDLO Director-General Irene Khan is taking part in a conference on the future of Somalia in Istanbul, as the organization seeks to aid progress towards a constitutional settlement in the shattered country.
“Whenever I visited Mogadishu before, I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the airport,” says IDLO’s Somalia representative in the region, Adam-Shirwa Jama. “These days, it’s a little easier and I can even venture out for meetings”.
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.
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.
Somalia is striving to strengthen its institutions and to improve the rule of law, however high levels of crime still persist. These include forms of complex crimes, namely extremist violence, organized crime, sexual and gender-based violence and corruption. In recent years, the Somali Federal Government has improved the fight against armed groups and made efforts to improve the capacity of the justice system to handle complex crimes.
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. Rebuilding Somalia’s formal justice system is a highly challenging, complex, and long-term undertaking. In fact, there have not been any effective formal justice institutions in the country for over two decades.
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.