Somaliland: Does the Just Promulgated Rape Law End Impunity for Sexual Crimes Offenders

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Somaliland: Does the Just Promulgated Rape Law End Impunity for Sexual Crimes Offenders

Somalilandsun- On 28th of August 2018, the republic of Somaliland acquired a new law titled “The Rape and Sexual Offence (Law Lr.80/2018”  Followong promulgation by President Muse Bihi Abdi.

Under the Somaliland rape and other related offences bill, all forms of sexual offence would be criminalised, including rape, gang rape, sexual assault, trafficking and child marriage. Rapists who infect their victims with HIV would receive life sentences.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi promulgated the Rape and Sexual Offenses Law on the 28th August 2018

Upon approval by Guurti, the upper chamber of parliament in Hargeisa, Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland’s representative said  “This really is a historic law for Somaliland. For the first time potential rapists will be scared that they will be punished and end up in jail for years,” Mahamoud told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from London. Adding that  “It also means that survivors can get at last seek redressal and have access to justice, instead of being forced to marry their rapists to save the so-called family honor.” Read Somaliland elders approve ‘historic’ law criminalising rape

Similarly Activists welcome initial approval of law by the house of representative, the lower chamber of parliament which is designed to curb rising sexual violence, but warned scope and implementation could prove problematic.

According to Nafisa Yusuf, executive director of the Nagaad Network of 45 women’s organisations in Somaliland, said: “This is a great milestone achieved by Somaliland women.” Read ‘A great milestone’: Somaliland adopts legislation outlawing rape

The network said the legislation is particularly significant given the rise of gender-based violence in recent years. Drought in the Horn of Africa in 2017 displaced tens of thousands of people in Somaliland and throughout the wider region, leaving women and young mothers especially vulnerable to assault.

L-R Somaliland Rep to UK Ayan Mahmud and Nagaad Umbrella ED Nafisa Yusuf

What is the Rape and Sexual Offences Law

according to Horizon Institute, The Somaliland Rape Law Bill (2014) is a significant step in the fight against sexual violence in Somaliland. Deliberation of the proposed law provides opportunities to enrich the law with best practices and highlights the importance of ending impunity for sexual violence.

Though the  Somaliland Penal Code already prohibits rape, yet sexual violence is still perpetrated and relatively few perpetrators are brought to justice. To be successful, the new law must address the challenges to justice for victims of rape in Somaliland as well as addressing gaps in the current legislation.

The Law ncludes a number of important provisions; for example, obtaining compensation for victims of sexual violence, combining principles of retributive and restorative justice and establishing an “anti-rape committee” to co-ordinate administration of justice under the proposed law.

  1. OHowever, there is a lack of clarity over how the new law will relate to the existing Penal Code, and certain provisions are not wholly in accordance with international norms and best practice. For example, the draft Bill provides for pre-emptive action against a potential perpetrator. This is contrary to fundamental principles of legality and fairness. Read pre law analysis by the Horizon Instituted titled Somaliland Rape Law Policy Brief

A step by step guide towards fruitation of the Somaliland Rape and sexual crimes offences  law as detailed by the Centre for Policy Analysis

Quote- The Rape and Sexual Offence (Law Lr.80/2018). On 28th of August 2018, the President of Somaliland H.E. Muuse Bihi Abdi, officially announced the signing of the Rape and Sexual Offences Bill into Act, after the House of Representatives approved the bill on July 29th, 2018.

The signing of this Rape and Sexual Offences Act by the president is a historic occasion to the Somaliland people and other stakeholders who took part the process of this bill into an official act.

The development of this act was initiated by Somaliland House of Representatives in 2011 as a result of continues constituent consultations, meetings ,field hearings and regional visits facilitated by International Republican Institute (IRI), where the House of Representatives (HoR) recognized urgent need of an act to tackle the rape issues raised by their constituents. During and after that period, Somaliland civil society organizations as Nagaad Umbrella the Focal point were technically supporting this bill with the HoR.

06 January 2018, the House of Representatives approved the first draft of the Rape and Sexual Offence Bill, then submitted to the upper House of Guurti as their parliamentary bill procedure in accordance with the Somaliland constitution.

Both chambers of the Somaliland parliament approved the Rape and Sexual Offenses Law

Unfortunately 08 April 2018, House of Guurti  passed amendments with 15 articles of the bill, most of the Guurti amendments affected a number of articles, including those relating to the proceeding of the cases, lowering the punishments of those who found guilty, among others. Read full CPA details The Somaliland Rape and Sexual Offence (Law Lr.80/2018)

Despite the few loggerheads the bill finally passed muster of both chambers of parliament thence signature into law by the president on 28th August 2018.

Now that it is law questions that abound are will he penal code finally supersede traditional law as in the case of sexual crimes in which the former now dictates lengthily jail terms while the later Pursues marriage between the culprit and victim?

Will reporting of sexual offences find favour thence immidiate action by law enforcement agencies and most important will the administration of President Bihi put mechanisms of awareness raising in place for benefit of public on the parameters covered by the Rape a d Sexual Offences Law ?

only time will tell but the actual promulgation is a very bright light at the  mouth of tunnel, which is impunity of sexual crimes and gender violence in Somaliland.

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