International Development Law Organization

Somalia

English

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.

Sustainable pathways to peace

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.

Strengthening the capacity of the Attorney General's office

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.

Prosecuting Terrorism Offenses

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.

Reforming the Somali Penal Code

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.

Strengthening the link between formal justice and traditional dispute resolution

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.

Pages

Key Initiatives

  • Lack of good governance and the rule of law are one of the most pressing problems confronting modern Somalia on its path towards stability and reconstruction. While there have been signs of progress, the absence of robust and competent institutions has contributed to a climate of insecurity and impunity. Several assessments of the justice system in Somalia have found that judges and prosecutors lack of adequate skills to effectively administer criminal trials in line with Somali laws and procedures, particularly with respect to safeguarding the rights of the accused.
  • 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.
  • 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.
Subscribe to RSS - Somalia