Judiciary strengthened as first batch of judges graduate from legal training

Mar 1, 2010

The first batch of judges, prosecutors and law practitioners graduated last month from a UNDP-backed legal training initiative aimed at strengthening Somaliland’s judiciary and promoting human rights awareness.

The University of Hargeisa program is part of a broader push to improve efficiency within the country’s judiciary and to improve access to justice for all.

The training program was launched after a 2007-2009 study by the UNDP and Somaliland Ministry and Justice and Judiciary showed that very few of the country’s judges were qualified lawyers, and that most required additional legal training.

The graduation ceremony was attended by senior government officials including Minister of Justice, Mr. Ismail Muumin Aar; Minster of Education, Ms. Samsam Abdi Aden; Chief Justice, Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Hirsi; Attorney General Hassan, Ahmed Aden; Civil Service Commissioner, Mr. Mohamed Mihile Boqore; members of the Supreme Court and members of the High Judicial Council. Also present were representatives from the Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), the University of Hargeisa, UNDP, elders and religious leaders.

From left: chairperson of Somaliland Lawyers Association (SOLLA), UNDP staff, UNDP – Head of Sub Office Hargeisa, Minister of Justice, Chief Justice, Civil Service Commissioner and President of the University of Hargeisa.

The university’s Faculty of Law initiated the training, with financial and technical support from UNDP. The Ministry of Justice and the judiciary helped prepare the training curriculum.

The training began in March 2010, and 34 of the initial 59 who registered completed all training requirements. Fifty judges and prosecutors from districts outside Hargeisa region have enrolled for the second batch of judiciary training, which was due to start immediately.

In his speech, the university’s Dean of the Faculty of Law, Mr. Mohamoud Hussein Farah, said that the training program would provide much-needed legal skills to the country’s judiciary.

"These studies show that 54 judges serving in courts of Hargeisa Region only 5 were qualified lawyers with University law degree or equivalent legal knowledge," explained Mr. Farah.

The Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Hargeisa, Mr. Mohamoud Hussein Farah

"Our pre-enrolment assessment showed that judges had little knowledge on how to handle cases brought before them. Our post-training assessment shows that the 1-year training has greatly improved their legal knowledge as well as knowledge human rights."

The training involved theoretical and practical lessons, continuous assignment tests and examinations.

The President of University of Hargeisa, Mr. Muse Abdi Elmi, explained the role of the university in the development of Somaliland.

"Today’s ceremony proves that the University of Hargeisa is fulfilling its duty of equipping the judiciary with the knowledge and skills that are important for the development of Somaliland".

Part of the first batch of graduating judges, prosecutors, law practitioners and support staff .staff.

These sentiments were echoed by Attorney General Hassan Ahmed Aden, who said that the Judicial Commission is interested in enhancing the knowledge and professionalism of judiciary staff.

"The judiciary in-service training is not only necessary and important for Somaliland, but is also essential for the protection of fundamental human rights and to ensure justice for all".

UNDP initially supported short-term training sessions, seminars and workshops for judges and judiciary staff members. However long-term in-service judiciary training was adopted to scale-up the impact and to meet the training needs within the judiciary.

"I believe the one year judiciary training has improved the quality of our human resources and will ultimately contribute towards efficiency in the judiciary", explained Mr. Mohamed Ahmed Hirsi, the Chief Justice.

The chief justice urged the graduates to use their new knowledge and skills to improve service delivery. He thanked UNDP for the continued financial and technical assistance to the Somaliland judiciary and justice systems.

"We need post-graduate programs for judiciary staff and law students. We kindly urge UNDP to consider additional support towards this course".

The Minister for Justice, Mr. Ismail Muumin Aar, pointed out that lack of qualified legal professionals contributed to many of the challenges that Somaliland is currently facing, particularly public confidence in the courts and the judiciary.

"To rectify this and to enable the judiciary to secure public confidence, it is necessary to undertake legal reform measures and to upgrade human resource capacity. Our people can no longer wait for justice to be delivered. As the judiciary, we must change. This is the starting point".

Mr. Ismail Muumin Aar delivers his speech during the graduation ceremony.

Head of Hargeisa Sub-Office, Mr. Ignatius Takawira, reiterated UNDP’s commitment to support efforts by the Somaliland Government and people to institutionalize the rule of law.

Somaliland Minster of Education Ms. Samsam Abdi Aden presents to a graduand.

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