Somaliland: Judiciary Decries Interference from the Executive Wing

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High Court buildings in Hargeisa

By: Osman A.M.

HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The judicial arm of the Government has complained of constant interference emanating from the executive’s, Presidency, on the issuance of unyielding instructions on how to dispense justice on cases before the members with no due regard to their independence from other arms of the state notwithstanding separation of powers between the arms.

The head of the appellate court with his counterpart in-charge of Hargeisa region Messr. Abdirashid Duraan & Feisal Abdilahi respectively flanked by judge Hussein Belel issued a strong worded statement directed to specific members of cabinet of President Silanyo’s Government who are fond of calling or writing to members of the bench to disperse justice in a way favorable to their interests in matters that either affect them directly or indirectly.

In one of a rare press conference called, charged judicial officers decried of frequent pressure from some specific members of cabinet giving clear directions that they should acquit or exonerate accused(s) from charges that they are facing hence negating cardinal principle of separation of powers between the different arms of the state.

First to break the ice on the issue during the press conference was the head of Hargeisa regional court Justice Feisal Abdilahi who called for an independent judiciary devoid of directions and authority of anyone. The regional court boss produced a letter purported to have been authored by the deputy minister for security Hon. Abdilahi Abokor Ismail with clear directions to the bench member hearing the matter to exonerate a robber from the charged he is prosecuted for.

Mr. Abdilahi urged the Government to stop undermining judicial officials by paying perks commensurate with their constitutional office holders from other arms of Government that are attractively remunerated with better allowances & enough benefits. Mr. Abdullahi posed, “How can a judge be beyond reproach when he abodes a bus with litigants whose case he is conducting?” The regional court head called for respect to be accorded to members of judiciary by avoiding commenting on matters that are before them hence questioned why a cabinet minister would just unleash blatant attacks on character & conduct of judges when judgment is delivered contrary to their expectations with others calling the President to fire them.

Mr. Abdilahi also revealed of plans to intimidate judicial officers when it is apparent that they don’t heed the instructions by employing available means within their reach like for instant looking for his community elder or MP or sometime contacting his relatives in order to persuade them arrive at favorable outcome in the decision that they are to make. The judge said that the litigant who is pushed by a minister has unlimited access to media, a support from presidential palace & the voice of community leaders/elders.

Another judge Mr. Hussein Bellel contributed, “People just talk of independent judiciary while in reality we are far from independence, look at this letter from the deputy minister for security who is he to instruct us to direct the matters that we are handling in a certain way? Queried the judge,before producing the letter signed by the minister.

Mr. Abokor is said to have questioned the judicial competence of the court and ordered for transfer of the issue to land adjudication committee of Hargeisa Municipality on grounds of maintenance of peace & communal cohesion yet the issue before the court was a robbery charge.

The appellate court head asked the Government to reform the poor state of judiciary by paying better salaries providing independent budget & equipping it with gadgets that facilitate fair hearing in court proceedings.

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