A new generation of rule of law proffesionals in Somalia

Aswan Harmud hopes to see more women in the legal profession in Somalia. Photo: UNDP Somalia

“In the past, only men did this job,” says lawyer Aswan Jibril. “Our legal system was dominated by men.”

Highlights

  • In 2014, 14,214 cases were successfully adjudicated by the Somaliland and Puntland courts.
  • UNDP-EU project also supported the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute 7977 cases.
  • 10 legal aid partners, including the Somali Bar and Lawyers’ Associations, provided legal aid services to 14,950 people, including 6,529 women.
  • In 2014, 1,745 people, including 787 women had access to justice as a result of UNDP-EU supported mobile courts.

In 2010, Aswan became one of the first female prosecutors in Somaliland. With the help of a UNDP scholarship and internship programme, funded by the European Union, she was able to complete the law school and start an internship in the Somaliland Prosecutor’s Office.

Today, Aswan is one of over 75 women working in the legal sector in Somaliland. In 2008, there were less than 5 women in this sector. “I see this as a step forward for women, because we were looked down upon and people used to think we could not hold these positions,” she said.

Through the Rule of Law and Access to Justice Project, funded by the European Union, UNDP is working together with the Ministry of Justice to build a strong and fair justice and legal system by enhancing the capacities and effectiveness of the courts and the judiciary. The project provides Law studies and helps qualified professionals find a job in the justice sector.
Like Aswan, many Somalis are driving development and contributing to transformation in their communities. Important changes – such as more women in decision-making, empowered local authorities, and access to livelihoods – are paving the way for a stable, peaceful, and vibrant Somalia. These positive changes offer better prospects for enhanced stability and development than the country has seen for more than a generation.  

Aswan still faces challenges and her high profile work has its risks. “The women in the office have become targets,” she says. “We don’t walk around town with our faces uncovered. We cover our faces – we do this out of fear.” However, she knows that her work is critical to helping foster a competent and trusted justice sector. “I have a dream of becoming a senior prosecutor.”

Since 2011, UNDP has supported internships in the justice sector. For one year, students of which half are women, work in the public sector, including key ministries, courts and the police, where they gain on-the-job experience. In 2014, 55 men and women carried out their internships while 149 received scholarships for University law studies.  These graduates are now working with the Attorney General’s Office, the Higher Judicial Council, the police, legal aid centres, local human rights NGOs, regional ministries and the Parliament.

Increasing the number of qualified law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges will help Somalia build a robust legal system and enable local institutions to handle their own judicial matters. In 2014, with the support of UNDP and the EU, 14,214 cases were successfully adjudicated by the Somaliland and Puntland courts. UNDP also supported the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute 7977 cases. 10 legal aid partners, including the Somali Bar and Lawyers’ Associations, provided legal aid services to 14,950 people, including 6,529 women.

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