Somaliland Judicial Branch
The Somaliland Judiciary consists of the courts and the Attorney General’s Office.
The state has a Judicial Branch whose function is to adjudicate on the disputes between the Government and the public and between the various members of the public. The Judicial Branch shall fulfill its duties in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the land, and in a manner independent of the other branches of the state.
The Judiciary has the power to:
a) interpret, in accordance with the Constitution, the laws passed by the Constitutional bodies and emergency laws;
b) adjudicate on disputes between the governmental bodies and the public and between the members of the public;
c) adjudicate on all disputes which relate to compliance with the provisions of the Constitution
SOMALILAND COURTS OF LAW:
Briefly, the Somaliland courts of law are:
- Courts of first instance, which are the District Courts and the Regional Courts;
- The Courts of Appeal, which are based in each region;
- The Supreme Court, which:
i. also functions as the Constitutional Court;
ii. can also sit, with additional representatives as the High Court of Justice when dealing with impeachment of ministers and Chairpersons of the Independent Agencies of the State.
4. Courts of the Armed forces (consisting of Lower and Supreme Courts), which deal with criminal cases against members of the armed forces.
The District Courts deal with the following:
- All claims based on Sharia (Islamic Law), which are primarily matters relating to family law and succession;
- Civil litigations concerning suits for amounts up to 3 million Somaliland Shillings;
- Criminal cases punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years or fines up to 3 million Somaliland Shillings;
- Any claims arising out of local government elections, which are placed under the jurisdiction of this Court by the Electoral Laws; The court shall have a Juvenile Section which deals with criminal cases committed by juvenile offenders, and which are punishable with imprisonment of not more than three years or fine of not more than 3 million Somaliland Shillings; such cases are heard by the Chairman of the District Court and two assessors;
- The court also has an Enforcement Section.
- The Court is chaired by a District Judge.
Regional Courts deal with:
- All civil litigations which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the District Court;
- All criminal cases which do not fall within the jurisdiction of the District Court;
- All claims under the Labour/Employment or Commercial law;
- Any claims arising out of local government elections, which are placed under the jurisdiction of this Court by the Electoral Laws.
The Court is divided into the following sections:
1. The Civil Cases Section of the Court – deals with all civil litigation which are not within the jurisdiction of the District Court.
2. The Criminal Cases Section which is divided into two sections:
- The General Section – deals with criminal cases which are punishable with imprisonment of more than 3 years and not more than 10 years; these cases are heard by a single judge.
- The Assize Section – deals with criminal cases punishable with more severe punishments, which are heard by the Chairman of the Regional Court, a Regional Court Judge and an assessor.
3. The Taxation and Finance Section – deals with cases relating to tax and finance.
4. The Juvenile Section – deals with criminal cases committed by juvenile offenders, which are not within the jurisdiction of the District Court. These cases are heard by the Chairman of the Court and two assessors.
Regional Court of Appeal
The Regional Court of Appeal – deals with all appeals from the District and Regional Courts. Each Court of Appeal is divided into:
- The General Appellate Section – deals with appeals from the district court, and from the General section of the Regional Court.
- The Assize Appellate Section – deals with appeals from the Assize Section of the Regional Court. Such appeals are heard by the Chairman of the Court, two Judges of the Appellate Court and two assessors.
- The Juvenile Section – deals with cases with Apeeals from the District and Regional Juvenile Sections.
- The Taxation & Finance Section – deals with from the District and Regional Taxation and Finance Sections.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court (also the Constitutional Court, see below) is the highest judicial organ in the country and consists of the Chairman and at least four judges. The Supreme Court deals with:
- All appeals from the Appeal Courts;
- Jurisdictional issues between the courts of the land;
- Administrative Suits relating to the final decisions of public bodies;
- Declaration of General elections (presidential and parliamentary results), decisions on any complaints relating to such elections, and appeals from lower courts’ decisions in respect of complaints relating to local government elections;
- Reviewing of its own decisions.
The Supreme Court may sit as a bench of three judges or as a full bench in important issues.
The judges of the Supreme Court also constitute the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court sits as a full bench and can:
- Adjudicate on suits from interested parties relating to the constitutionality of the acts and decisions of the Government and the Legislature;
- Interpret the provisions of the Constitution and the laws of the land when these provisions are subject to controversy and submitted to the Court by an interested party;
- Reach decisions on court decisions which are challenged as being contrary to the Constitution.
The judges of the Supreme Court can also sit as the High Court of Justice with additional four representatives from the two Houses of Parliament (two from each House). This special court deals with the impeachment of ministers and chairpersons of the Independent Agencies of the State.
Judges, other than Supreme Court judges, are appointed by the Judicial Commission which is set up under Articles 107 and 108 of the Constitution and hold office until their retirement, normally at 65 years of age. The Commission is chaired by the Chairman of the Supreme Court and consists of:
- the Chairman;
- the two other most senior judges of the Supreme Court,
- the Attorney General,
- the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission,
- the Director General of the Ministry of Justice , and
- four members of the public selected once every two years by the two Houses of Parliament (two by each House).
The Commission also deals with the deployment, transfer, promotion, demotion and disciplining of judges and Deputy Attorney Generals.
The Chairman and judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President, in consultation with the Judicial Commission, under Article 105 of the Constitution, but in respect of the Chairman, the appointment must be confirmed at a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.
The President may dismiss the Chairman of the Supreme Court subject to the approval of both Houses.
The Judiciary consists of the courts and the Procuracy.
The state has a judicial branch whose function is to adjudicate on proceedings between the Government and the public and between the various members of the public. The Judicial Branch shall fulfil it duties in accordance with the Constitution, and shall are independent of the other branches of the state.