Somaliland: First Thematic Conference on Judicial Reform
Somaliland Minister of Justice Hon Hussein Ahmed Aidiid today opened the first thematic conference on Judicial Reform which was held at hotel Mansoor in Hargeisa.
Minister of Justice said the establishment of work-clusters is intended to enhance reform implementation cohesion and effectiveness.
Hon Hussein said members of the work –clusters will have the responsibility of leading the judicial reform initiatives within their respective government, law professional, legal education and civil society organizations-they will be essential justice change agents.
JUDICIAL REFORM STEERING COMMITTEE
The Judicial Reform Steering Committee (IRSC) is responsible for monitoring the realization of the expected outcomes (s) of the Somaliland Judicial Reform Work-Plan, as expressed in the Somaliland Ten Point Agenda for Justice Reform (Declaration) by assisting the Judicial Reform Implementation Thematic Work Clusters in managing interdependency of different work-plan activities to the realization of the work-plan objectives. It is also responsible for assuring work-plan continuity and support at the country level.
JUDICIAL REFORM IMPLEMENTATION TECHNICAL SUPPORT UNIT
The judicial reform technical support unit (JRTSU) is newly established department of the Ministry of Justice. It will be responsible for providing day-to-day technical advice to the judicial reform steering committee and work-clusters on all matters associated with work-plan activity planning and implementation, e.g., financial management, data-gathering and analysis, monitoring and evaluation, report writing and information management. The specific task of the JRTSU is to support the implementation of the judicial reform work-plan by supporting the work of the thematic work clusters.
Somaliland’s Ten Point Agenda for Justice Reform Strategy:
- Ensuring all laws are written in Somali and that a Somali legal terminology is produced.
- Recognizing the importance of an independent and adequately financed judiciary in which judges have security of tenure (including appointment, transfer, promotion and dismissal) an are empowered to make competent and impartial decisions without any interference. At the same time recognizing the importance of an accountable and responsible judiciary guided by a Code of Conduct.
- Ensuring that the key legal institutions including the Judiciary, the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s office, the High Judicial Committee have adequate means to professionally perform their duties including, legal education, infrastructure of buildings, equipment, transport, communications and administrative costs.
- Recognizing the need for legislative reform of outdated and incompatible laws with the Somaliland Constitution and the requirement to draft new laws. These processes will be undertaken under the auspices of a Law Reform Commission. Agreed priority laws to reform include, but not limited to: Penal Code, Criminal Procedures Code, Civil Code, and Civil Procedures Code and Organization of the Judiciary Act. Agreed priority laws to draft include, but are not limited to Civil Registers and Commercial Code.
- Affirming the necessity of minimum legal education requirements for entry into the legal profession. Encouraging the continued support to law faculties and clinics as well as the establishment of postgraduate legal vocational training for admission to the Lawyers Association to practice law in Somaliland and recognizing the importance of the development of the Lawyers provision of entry of newly qualified graduates into the legal profession.
- Acknowledging the need to increase public confidence and awareness of the role of the judiciary and legal systems.
- Emphasizing the right to fair trial and legal representation in all stages of criminal proceedings including arrest, pre-trial detention, trial and appeal of sentence. Ensuring access to justice for all, in particular provision of free legal aid for those without the financial means and vulnerable persons.
- Recognizing the importance of women participation in the justice sector and the need to provide women with adequate legal education, access to justice and entry into the legal profession.
- Promoting a justice system in which the three legal systems (Xeer, sharia and formal) can work together and identify compatible and contradictory practices with the Somaliland Constitution and accepted international human rights standards recognizing that sharia is the fundamental source of laws in Somaliland.
- Recognizing the importance of the Ministry of Justice as the leader in promoting and implementing this Declaration through a participatory process in close co-operation with the Judiciary, the Attorney General’s Office, political and social actors in Somaliland.