Puntland mobile courts explained to judicial officials from emerging StatesJul 28, 2017
A knowledge sharing tour on mobile courts and legal aid has this week taken place in Puntland, with the aim of speeding up the roll out of mobile courts across the four emerging Federal Member States. Judicial officials from Jubbaland, South West State, Hirshabelle and Galmudug traveled to Garowe for the week long event to observe how mobile courts in Puntland carry out their work, so that they can replicate the courts successfully in their own states.
The mobile courts system was established by the Puntland Judiciary in 2009 with support from the United Nations Joint Rule of Law Programme, which works with government partners to strengthen legal and judiciary institutions across Somalia. The programme is funded by the European Union and the United Kingdom.
A lack of formal governance structures, alongside an absence of affordable and accessible justice services, has meant remote communities, including communities of internally displaced persons and returnees, are unable to access fair and equitable justice systems.
The mobile court teams, which are made up of lawyers, judges, prosecutors and registrars, bring formal justice systems closer to people, traveling to remote areas to provide free judicial services which are otherwise physically and monetarily inaccessible. In Puntland, the successful roll out of mobile courts has led to expanded police presence and reduced violence in displcement camps and rural areas.
Along with a visit to a mobile court outside Garowe, participants on the tour will also observe how legal aid providers, alternative dispute resolution and scholarship programmes work, and will learn about the administrative and financial structure of the Puntland Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs and Rehabilitation.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the tour, the Director General of the Puntland Ministry of Justice, Religious Affairs and Rehabilitation, Mr Mohamed Ali Farah, reiterated his support for increasing the capacity of the justice sector through such trainings, and highlighted the importance of coordination amongst all Federal Member States. “It makes me happy to see such coordination efforts within the Somali government, it conveys unity in Somalia. We are ready to support the participants on this tour and increase the capacity of the justice sector,” he said.
The Director General of the Jubbaland Ministry of Justice, Mr. Idris Hassan Mahamoud, thanked the Puntland government for hosting the event. “This peer to peer programme and the practical training received will better enable emerging states to restructure themselves and speed up service delivery,” he said.
The Head of UNDP’s Puntland Area Office, Sayed Sahibzad, highlighted the work UNDP does to support the justice sector. “UNDP works to increase the capacity of justice institutions to deliver justice to all, in particular vulnerable groups such as women, children, displaced persons, refugees and those from poor communities. I congratulate the Government of Puntland in supporting this great initiative of bringing colleagues from Federal Member States to learn from the Puntland experience of mobile courts,” he concluded.
Zafar Gondal, Justice Technical Specialist, United Nations Development Programme