Somaliland: Can the Judiciary Commission hold judges accountable?

Wednesday March 20, 2019 - 13:04:39
Photo: judge Abdirashid Beergeel, the judge who announced the judgment
Hargeisa- The Judiciary Commission is responsible for the appointment, removal of office, promotion, demotion, transfer and the discipline of the judges of the lower courts.

The head of the Commission is the Chief Justice.

On Tuesday, the information of a judge who sentenced a man to death by stoning and women to flogging surfaced after one of the human rights defenders involved in the matter tweeted it.

The matter was worsened by the fact the woman the judge ordered to be flogged 100 times reported rape and wanted her case to be proceeded.

The judge did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Abdirashid Beergeel, is the chairperson of Hargeisa District Court, which has jurisdiction over criminal cases whose punishment does not exceed 3 years of imprisonment.

There was no criminal case pending before the judge. The prosecution office did not decide to press charges.

The judge was requested to order a DNA test to decide the paternity of a child. "His task was very limited. It was only to take evidence aimed to be used to convince the prosecution to press charges,” says Guleid Ahmed Jama, a human rights lawyer based in Hargeisa.

The DNA test was asked by the lawyer of the woman with a disability who claimed that she was raped by a taxi driver. The prosecution told the lawyer that they do not have enough evidence as the man denied the accusations.

Fardus Adam, the lawyer opted to acquire DNA evidence to convince the prosecution to take the case. To make the evidence admissible, the lawyer asked the district court to order a DNA test.

The case is a test for the function of the Judiciary Commission which is accused of not taking an action against judges who abuse power.

Recently, the Commission adopted a new code of conduct outlining new complaint procedure.

"I am personally committed to take this case to the Commission. This will be a real test for the work of the Commission,” Guleid said.

"Accountability is vital for justice. If judges do not believe that they are accountable for their actions, there is no way they will act in accordance with the law,” he added.

"Survivors of rape who report to the authorities should not be harassed and subjected to persecution. Rape is already underreported. This case will have a huge negative impact,” he added.