Mobile Courts Bring Justice to Somalia's Rural Communities

Mobile courts bring justice to the residents of Xaaji Kheyr village in Puntland

For the residents of the Xaaji Kheyr village in Puntland, Somalia, it's a two-hour drive to the nearest court.

And due to the cost and time involved, most residents do not have a chance to seek justice.
But in 2009, the Puntland Supreme Court, with the support of UNDP, set up four mobile courts in order to bring justice to the region’s rural communities.

Highlights

  • Mobile courts brings justice closer to the community
  • Annual cases doubling from 200 to 1750 in 2012


“Those living in remote areas leading nomadic lives and in country villages find it difficult to access the courts”, says Puntland Chief Magistrate Abdinoor Jama Hussein. “Generally a mere five percent of people use courts so the mobile courts serve them well.”

The courts consist of a judge, prosecutor, chief registrar and paralegal lawyer and adjudicate primarily civil and family cases, but also criminal cases.
“The way the mobile courts work is that traditional elders and leaders call the chief justice and the main judges of the mobile courts telling them: We have so many cases, can you come to this village,” explains Simone Boneschi, UNDP Somalia’s Access to Justice Project Manager. Judges and prosecutors apply a mix of Shariah and customary law in solving the cases that are brought before them.

For Xaaji Kheyr resident Halima Hassan, having access to such mobile courts has been life-changing.. She was in an abusive marriage and unsuccessfully tried mediation to resolve the conflict between her and her husband. When she found out about the mobile courts she approached them to seek a divorce.

“I did not have any transport to take me to town”, she says “I called the court officials and they came to me. The case was heard and judgment was determined. It ended in a good way”.

Since mobile courts were launched in 2009, the annual caseload has doubled from 200 to 1750 in 2012. These mobile courts have proved to be very crucial  in a society where even simple cases like stealing a goat can turn quickly escalate into conflicts between individuals and sometimes even between clans. They have thus proved to be very efficient conflict solution mechanisms.

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