On 30th May, Baidoa’s Chief Justice, members of the judiciary and the UN discussed the restoration of the judicial system through the expansion of mobile courts in South West State. The meeting was part of the Daldhis project, financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund, which aims to support the decentralization of governance and the restoration of state structures in Jubbaland and South West State.
As an outcome of the meeting, South West State participants agreed to expand mobile courts – an issue the Judiciary has thus far been reluctant on. Through this initiative, judges will be periodically deployed to remote areas of the region to form decisions on claims. The mobile courts system will rely on traditional leaders to bring cases to the formal judicial system if they exceed their competencies.
With the support of the Traditional Dispute Resolution Unit – currently being established in the Ministry of Justice - traditional leaders will be trained to sort out sensitive cases that need to be referred to the mobile courts. Thus, traditional leaders will continue to play a central part in the establishment of the new hybrid justice system, which mixes formal and traditional law.
The South West State Supreme Court also appointed three lawyers to provide legal aid services to claimants who engage with the mobile courts. This will help citizens in South West State to better understand the formal legal system and set the basis for fair trial standards.
The mechanism of mobile courts is expected to considerably enhanced justice services expansion.
The formal justice system in Somalia has not been developed yet, with its key institutions still lacking the basic resources to carry out their mandates. Therefore, the Xeer, Somalia’s customary law, and Sharia’a law remain the main legal systems currently available to Somalis. Strengthening the formal legal system and providing greater access to it for all Somalis are seen as key priorities to extend the State’s authority and legitimacy, improve stability, and thereby contribute to sustainable peace in Somalia.