Both the honorable Chief Justice of the Republic of Somaliland, Adan Haji Ali, and the Chairman of the Somaliland Non-State Actors Forum (SONSAF), Mustafa Sa’ad Dhimbil, voiced their hope for significant recommendations that contribute to best practices in the judicial system of the country to come out of a two-day conference on judicial matters which opened today at the Maansoor Hotel, Hargeisa.
“We are more than honored to participate in a conference where the judicial practices of the country is discussed, questions are asked, issues explored and views are exchanged,” the CJ Adan said, addressing the meeting.
The Chief Justice touched on few of the major reforms the third highest branch of the state has undertaken since he took over the helm of its leadership, calling it ‘a new paradigm shift’ towards the right direction.
“It was a scar on the credibility of the state that sections of the judicial organs were placed under an executive office. That did not only marred and compromised the independence and impartiality of the country’s justice arm. Thanks to His Excellency the President, the requisite step to unfetter those sections and place them within the umbrella of the Judicial Committee and the Supreme Court has been carried out successfully,” he said. “Not only that,” he added, “but salaries and other gratuities have been raised not less than twice in this short period”.
The Honorable CJ, the President of the Constitutional Court, hoped that the conference will give him and his colleagues an opportunity to sit with and listen to contributions from participating civil society actors, representatives of relevant government institutions, human rights organizations, members of the international community and other resources.
“The conference must positively add to gains, point out gaps, identify the way forward as we are one nation unified in its goals and aspirations,” the CJ stated.
“The Conference, indeed”, he established “will have a two-fold benefit for us: (a) we listen and absorb what participants wish us to note in the way of telling reforms; and, (b) on the same token, participants act as conveyors of reforms started, goals attained and outcomes envisaged on our part”.
SONSAF Chairman, Mustafa Sa’ad Dhimbil, opening the conference outlined the conference agenda stating that the conference will, primarily, concentrate on the two themes resting on a close look at the judicial system of the Republic of Somaliland and on the situation/state of human rights in present-day Somaliland.
“We are one nation, one people. As such, I am certain we will arrive at tangible recommendations aiming to further improve the country’s judicial and human rights situation,” Mustafa said.
Mohamed Mohamoud Hashi, Chairman of the Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), welcomed the initiative that brought together all stakeholders along whose primary responsibilities revolved around the protection of the dignity, life and property of the citizen.
Mohamoud Hussein Farah, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Hargeisa, and the Deputy Chairperson of the Somaliland Law Reform Commission (SLRC), supported the resolve behind the conference, calling it timely and appropriate to the day and situation.
“As time changes so the urgency to adjust laws to the crimes of the day. Today,” he said “we are living in a digital world with its accompanying cyber-crimes and Internet-supported crimes”.
Mr. Farah stated that it was imperative for stakeholders and line agencies to update one another on relevant measures which uphold the rule of law and the protection of the rights of the individual at all times, at all situations.
“The era of dictatorships is behind us. days when one could not openly discuss human rights abuses and steps to rectify or reform perceived judicial oversights are gone and dealt away with. Today, we raise – candidly and fairly – issues that are central to our existence and progress and resolve outstanding issues objectively to the best of our resources,” he said.
Fathia Jahur, the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, advised that all matters pertaining to the betterment of human rights conditions in Somaliland be brought out to the open and discussed.
“Impartiality and objectivity must not be sacrificed for sensationalism. The protection of the rights of the citizen is a collective responsibility which all agencies and stakeholders must bolster together. The government is only one cog in that wheel,” she said.
Ms Fathia lamented the absence of the police department at the opening ceremony because, she said, ‘almost all discussions on human rights touched on their operations’ since the police force was involved at all steps up the line to justice reached.
Mohamed Ali, Director General of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, stated that his ministry had a vested interest to see to it that the wheel of justice was well oiled and smoothly running.
“We are responsible for social welfare. We are responsible for family life. We are responsible for the employee population. We are responsible for street children, the disabled and for other vulnerable groups of the society,” he said adding “That these groups are not deprived of their rights is a primary responsibility”.