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Somaliland’s Justice System : Not Worth A Bucket Of Warm Piss
With the Hargeisa regional court’s ruling, the Haatuf saga has come full circle. What this case has exposed is the damage that corrupt political leaders can inflict on a country. One institution after another made it plain that they are not there to serve the public, but to carry out the wishes of the president and his corrupt ministers. It started with the CID and the police’s combined armed assault on the office of Haatuf newspaper and the kidnapping of its reporters.
The total disregard for the law by Somaliland’s government officials was exemplified by the attitude of the commander of the police, Col. Mohamed Saqadi Dubad. When he was asked how come he seized the reporters without an arrest warrant, his answer was, “I have what they wrote in front of me.” His message was clear: the newspaper published something critical of the president and that was all the evidence he needed to kidnap them.
But this was only the beginning, a harbinger of what was to come, which finally culminated in the supreme court’s decision that threw away the Press Law and gave the Hargeisa Regional Court the green light to apply Somalia’s Penal Code to the case. Hargeisa Regional Court, in turn, obliged, and gave the president what he wanted: a harsh sentence of jail time and fine for the reporters and indefinite suspension to the newspaper.
The court paid no attention to the fact that the attorneys of the defendants were not present, that two of the journalists were arrested without a warrant, that they were refused bail despite the fact that the possibility they would skip bail was non-existent, that Somaliland’s Press Law was the pertinent law to the case, that the newspaper had evidence to support its allegations, that the former chauffeur of the president’s wife backed the newspaper’s claims and that the trial was taking place in a security complex (Mandera Police academy).
Additional evidence that the court was colluding with the government in subverting the cause of justice can be gleaned from the fact that the public prosecutor and the judge of the case (Faysal Abdillahi Ismail) left Hargeisa together the day before the trial, stayed overnight in Mandera, and came together the next day to the court.
Another example of how far Judge Faysal Abdillahi Ismail was willing to sink in order to please the president is this exchange which took place toward the end of the trial:
Judge Faysal Abdillahi Ismail: “Are there any more charges that you want to add to the previous ones?”
Prosecutor: “We ask that the newspaper [Haatuf] be suspended because it continued to write about the case while it was in progress which violates the press law.”
Judge Faysal Abdillahi Ismail, of course, granted the prosecutor his final request and indefinitely suspended the publication of the newspaper. Never mind the fact that from the beginning of the case until the point at which the prosecutor made his final request, the Hargeisa Regional Court, the Supreme Court and the prosecutor had adamantly refused to uphold the Press Law. In fact the Supreme Court had ruled that the Press Law was not really a law but rather some sort of a charter for the internal regulation of the press. But now that a section of the Press Law seemed potentially helpful to its case, the prosecution invoked it and the judge quickly accepted their request.
The Haatuf case has revealed the damage that a corrupt political leadership can do to a country. Even the courts which are supposed to be above the political fray have shown that they are not there to serve the cause of justice but to do the president’s bidding. In other words, they are part of the problem, not the solution.
John Nance Garner said about the American vice presidency that it is “not worth a bucket of warm piss". The same could be said about Somaliland’s justice system.
Therefore, the efforts of reform in Somaliland must include cleaning up the justice system. Judges like Faysal Abdillahi Ismail and the whole crew of the Supreme Court (Mohammed Ali Hirsi, Mahamud Hirsi Farah, Mohammed Abdi Naaleeye, Isman Ismail Ahmed and Yasin Hasan Ismail) who are responsible for reducing Somaliland’s justice system to its current pitiful state should be removed from their positions and banned from having anything to do with the law. Somaliland deserves better than “a bucket of warm piss.”
Source: Somaliland Times