Abolition of the Somaliland Security Committees - July 2010
We note with great joy that the one of the first decrees that the newly elected Somaliland President passed was to abolish forthwith the Somaliland Security Committees which exercised extra judicial powers and to pardon all persons detained by the Committees that have not been sentenced for an offence by a court of law. The President has set up national and regional committees that deal with the defence and security of the nation but have no extra judicial powers.
The Minister of Interior is also submitting to Parliament a new Public Order Law which replaces the 1962 Law.
SomalilandLaw.com warmly welcomes the new Government’s actions. We congratulate the President for his prompt action on this important issue.
This page is kept here for historical purposes.
CAMPAIGN FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE EXTRA-JUDICIAL ACTIVITIES OF SOMALILAND SECURITY COMMITTEE
(OLALAHA TIRTIRRIDDA AWOODAHA GARSOORKA AY MAROORSADEYN GUDDIYADA NABADGELYADDA)
(Started formally in 2003, but the representations about this issue go back to 1999)
Many Somaliland civil organisations, both at home and abroad have been campaigning for a long time to convince the Somaliland Government to end the extra-judicial powers exercised by administrative regional and district security committees staffed by public employees, which often send citizens to prison without due process of law. The Diaspora based Somaliland Forum and many other Somaliland civil groups, as well as the Somalila
The Security Committees: Legal Challenge
12 May 2007: Nine plaintiffs currently in jail on the orders of security committees and the Human Rights Umbrella Organisation, Shuro-Net, tried to issue proceedings at the Somaliland Constitutional Court, but the Court refused to register the claims without any reason. The plaintiffs will be re-submitting their claims.
Reports of the incident at the Court on 12/05/2007
Somaliland Forum Press Release 13/05/2007
Shuro-Net Statement on Somaliland Security Committees and the Supreme (Constitutional) Court case challenging their legality and the initial response of the Court Chairman on 12 May 2007 - SOMALI or ENGLISH (pdf file)
political parties have, over the years, called for the abolition of these committees or at least the ending of their extra-judicial activities. Somaliland has fully functioning courts of law and the extra-judicial powers of these committees go back to the dictatorship era of the 1980s and 1990s and have no place in the constitutional democracy of Somaliland.
The illegality of the actions of these committees has been explained in the numerous submissions and press releases recorded in this page. Many recommendations have been made to the Somaliland President, who has the power to stop these practices immediately, and to the parliament and the courts. The Somaliland House of Representatives passed resolutions and a bill (the Organisation of the Judiciary Bill) which declare the actions of these committees unconstitutional and unlawful, yet as recently as April 2007, 24 butchers demonstarting against the decisions of the Hargeisa Mayor relating to abbattoir fees were sent to prison by the Hargeysa Regional Security Committee without any trial or legal representation. The fact that the Mayor was himself a member of the Security Committee speaks volumes about how objectionable the actions of these committees are to all tenets of natural justice. It has been reported that, at any time, hundreds of persons who are in detention at the Somaliland prisons and police stations are there on the orders of or sentences passed by the members of these Security Committees and have never been taken to a court of law.
It appears also that these Committees often go into action when citizens may be exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly. There are ample provision in the Penal Code for dealing with public order offences and the point is that anyone who contravenes the law should be arrested according to the law and dealt with by a court of law. No one is criticising the important work that public officials undertake in safeguarding peace and security and any committees formed to strengthen this role are very much needed and have the support of the Somaliland people, but there is no need for any administrative committees sending citizens to jail when there are courts of law that can deal with any crimes.
Besides depriving citizens of their liberties without due process of law, the continuing activities of these Committees have coloured the people’s views about the Somaliland justice system and have damaged the standing of Somaliland. The message of this campaign is simple: These practices must stop, right now.
Every member of these Security Committees who participates in a decision to send an individual to prison without due process of law is being reminded of his individual responsibility. Public officials who continue to contravene the provisions of the Constitution and the criminal laws of the land with impunity are reminded that the time will come when they will be held to account for the offences they have committed agianst their own citizens. Somaliland is entering an election year and all candidates and political parties will be asked by the public on where they stand on this issue.