From 22 – 24 August, 2017 Somali Minister of Justice, Avv. Hassan Haji, is participating in a Continental Conference in Kigali, entitled “Collaboration between the Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions for Access to Justice”. The Somali delegation consisted of the Minister and Senior Policy Adviser Mr. Abdirahman M Gutale. The Minister was invited by International Development Law Organization (IDLO) Somalia Country office.
The Conference was jointly organized by Legal Aid Forum (LAF Kigali), Kituo Cha Sheria (Kenya), PASI (Malawi), TIMAP for Justice (Sierra Leone), and ACAOSA (South Africa) and supported by IDLO. The conference aims to strengthen collaboration between formal and informal justice institutions and brings together over hundred representatives of the judiciary, Ministries of Justice, community justice institutions and academia representing more than a dozen African countries.
H.E. Avv. Hassan Haji served one of the key panels examining “Criminal Justice experience and Penal Reform: Potential and Implications for Judiciary and Community Justice Institutions”. H.E. Hassan Haji highlighted the Somali experience specially the use of Xeer and its importance in the public; synergy between Xeer (informal) and the formal judiciary, which the Ministry is currently strengthening with the aim to open Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centers in Benadir, Puntland, Galmudug, Hir-Shabele, Southwest and Jubaland. H.E. Hassan Haji underscored the symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship between the two systems. He encouraged participants to enhance capacity of ADR Adjudicators across the Continent.
H.E. Hassan Haji held close discussion with his South Sudanese Counterpart and shared experiences and best options to overcome weaknesses in the judiciary as both countries build vibrant and viable justice and correctional institutions respectively. Similarly, Minister Hassan Haji discussed with South African Deputy Minister of Justice on strengthening judiciary and how Somalia can benefit from the South African experience.
H.E. Hassan Haji held bilateral talks with his Rwandan counterpart, H.E. Busingye Johnston, Minister of Justice and the Attorney General. The two discussed a number of issues, exchanged experiences, and had a mutually understanding that Rwanda will assist Somalia on capacity development in the judiciary via trainings and exchange of experiences. Similarly, H.E. Johnston offered to host Somali delegation in the future to gain first hand experience on the successful Rwandan model of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Legal Aid.
H.E. Hassan Haji met with South African Chief Justice, H.E. Mogeogn Mogeong. They discussed, in length, the establishment of Judiciary Service Commission, Constitutional Court, and how Somalia can benefit from their experience.
The Minister requested support to provide Training of Trainers for Somali Judges. The Chief Justice advised he had discussion with his counterparts from Rwanda and Sierra Leone and the three agreed on the need to improve the capacity of African Judiciary and how to best share and exchange knowledge across the continent. Minister Hassan Haji welcomed the collaboration on strengthening and capacity enhancement among African Judicial Institutions.
In response to the Minister’s request, Chief Justice suggested two options: either having Somalis come to visit South Africa or South Africa can send experienced Judges to Somalia.
Finally, H.E. Chief Justice Mogeong requested Somalia to join the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA). The Minister will discuss the request with Somali Chief Justice.
H.E. Hassan Haji attended official dinner meeting with Chief Justices, Ministries, Judges, and Diplomats, which was hosted by the South African Ambassador to Rwanda.
The Continental Conference on Collaboration will conclude on 24 August, 2017