As part of the fact finding mission to Somaliland, Global Diplomatic Council (GDC) Secretary General and Executive Chairperson Hon. Amb. Yohan Byrde and Deputy Secretary General Mr. Jeroen Zandberg were welcomed by the Somaliland Supreme Court President Aadam Axmed in his office in Hargeisa, Somaliland on 23 October 2019.
The GDC and INEX are very involved in the strengthening of (international) institutions and the promotion of peace as part of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations. Since many of the projects and partnerships of the GDC are related to SDG 16, the meeting with the Supreme Court President offered a great opportunity to share experiences and find opportunities to cooperate and improve the workings of the Judicial Commission of Somaliland. The Supreme Court President has been in office for six years and prior to his appointment was a professor for 15 years. He combines his excellent knowledge and experience with a high spirited zeal to reform the countries’ judicial system and make peace and justice a reality for all Somaliland citizens. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the Somaliland system, which consists of 300 district courts that cover the entire country, most of which is sparsely populated. The Supreme Court is the body of appeal and in order to be closer to the people, the judges and support staff travel every year to establish themselves for half a year in another part of the country.
The large distances and the low population density in most of the Somaliland regions, combined with the requirement of direct and universal access to the courts, means that the costs are high. Most of these expenses are covered by the court fees, which are collected by the ministry of finance but placed in the 40 million USD budget of the ministry of Justice. Fortunately, Somaliland also receives international support for its dedicated work on the Rule of Law in Somaliland, as well as for training and capacity building of its staff. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has a very ambitious agenda to improve the Somaliland justice system by enhancing the participation of women and marginalised groups within its ranks and to improve the awareness of their legal rights and how they can claim those through the court system.
The GDC looks forward to having a close cooperation with the President of the Supreme Court to strengthen the Rule of Law in Somaliland and provide peace and justice to all its citizens. The GDC already has many programs running in which the Judicial Commission can participate in the near future. On top of that, the meeting provided GDC Secretary General Yohan Byrde with many insights into the state of the judicial system of Somaliland and what further capacity building options are needed and what partners are best suited for this challenge.