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Somalia - Past Programs

Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) Program

In 2023, ABA ROLI concluded the five-year Expanding Access to Justice (EAJ) program, carried out with Pact, which improved access to justice and promoted effective processing for individuals and communities to access justice in Somalia and Somaliland. The program advanced its goals through three objectives: to support and improve inclusive community engagement in justice solutions, to strengthen justice services, and to improve the navigation of justice pathways by aggrieved parties.

In 2023, EAJ cemented its relationship with the new Federal Government of Somalia with officials within the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) confirming their interest in sustaining EAJ justice approaches. The MOJ took a particular interest in the GIS (geographical information system) justice sector mapping program implemented in the Southwest State (SWS), requesting a formal presentation in Mogadishu which EAJ delivered in March 2023. Officials within the MOJ and Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) were equally impressed with EAJ‘s local values-based, judicial ethics booklet which was presented to 80 judges in the Banaadir Region at the EAJ-funded Judges Forum in March.

Furthermore, the OCJ began circulating its new Judiciary Strategy Implementation Matrix in March, which has incorporated several EAJ-supported “justice supply” pilot initiatives including Judges’ Forum, Court User Committee, and Judicial Ethics education. Similarly, the SWS government based in Baidoa praised EAJ’s Year Five program implementation via Letters of Appreciation delivered to EAJ by SWS Chief Judge Ahmed Musa and SWS/MOJ Hasan Abdulkadir.

Between 2018 and 2023, the EAJ program worked to bring about lasting improvements in access to justice and effective mechanism to address grievances for stability in Somalia. EAJ provided small grants of up to $150,000 to 16 CSOs, including legal aid organizations (LAOs), and universities. In total, sixty-three new initiatives dedicated to strengthening justice services were introduced. EAJ also supported LAOs to expand justice assistance avenues to respond to client needs with context-appropriate methods, including through walk-in support, hotlines, radio clinics, and outreach through community-based volunteer justice promotors (JPs). For example, with the Somalia Community Action Group, ABA ROLI supported the development of live radio call-in events (radio talk shows), focusing on the individual rights of internally displaced people, women, marginalized groups, and GBV survivors.

To improve community engagement in justice solutions, the program introduced access to justice committees, court user committees, justice sub-committees, land dispute committees, and land accountability platforms. To strengthen justice services, the program introduced model courts, a judges’ forum, judicial ethics education, and GIS mapping. The judiciary of Somalia adopted an ethics code with assistance from EAJ that strengthened respect for individual rights and new processes and procedures. LAOs now have greater access to judiciary institutions because of EAJ justice engagement platforms. To better navigate justice pathways by wronged parties, the program introduced a JP model (community-based paralegals), clinical legal education support, and justice call-in centers, among other interventions. The JP pilot was the first of its kind in Somalia, proving this a viable approach that can help overcome some of the challenges posed by legal pluralism.

The program reached 41,967 Somali citizens (56% women) through activities including as legal awareness, legal education, or legal representation; and it helped manage 2,899 legal cases (64% filed by women). A client satisfaction survey revealed 79% of program beneficiaries were either satisfied or very satisfied with the program’s services received. t. The project had activities focused on providing access to justice for women. EAJ introduced a women justice actors pressure group and organized women’s advocacy dialogues with elders and roundtables with Shari’ah practitioners that addressed women’s rights.