Apr 28, 2011

Somaliland: Making Justice Accessible

Mobile courts are now becoming a common practice in Somaliland contributing to the rule of law and justice and helping to ensure citizens a safe and peaceful life.

Below is an article published by Somaliland Press

The UNDP has helped establish mobile courts in all regions in Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera, Borama and Erigavo, speeding and simplifying access to justice for hundreds of people across Somaliland.

The mobile courts, an initiative that falls under the UNDP’s Access to Justice Project, are helping vulnerable groups living in rural and isolated areas access justice, particularly women, children, minorities and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Established in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the courts use past experiences to engage and support traditional justice mechanisms, and support legal aid and legal clinic services, reducing the cost for those who use the courts.

Lawyers from the Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), the implementing partner organization, travel with members of the judiciary and prosecutors to help clients identify their legal claims, providing legal assistance as required.

One woman who has benefitted from the mobile courts is 40-year-old Hibo Haji Yusuf from the Elafweyn District. She says that the mobile court in Erigavo helped to resolve her case quickly:

“I decided to take my case to a court only when I heard that Erigavo mobile court is coming to Elafweyn. I submitted my case to the mobile court through the Elafweyn District court. Judges from Erigavo Regional Court came and stayed for three days. They heard my case and quickly gave judgment.”

“I did not have enough money to cover expenses if I had filed my case in Erigavo Regional Court. The mobile court came in handy,” explains Hibo.

The UNDP’s Access to Justice Project prioritizes initiatives that support the prevention and prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence cases. The project also works to strengthen institutions and civil society to monitor and safeguard human rights in the country and make recommendations to address human rights issues.

The popularity of the mobile courts is reflected in the increase of court cases across the country.

The number of cases heard by mobile courts in the five regions increased from 255 in 2009 to 418 in 2010.

The mobile courts were established in 2008.