31 March 2015 - A new tool designed to enhance the judicial system of Somaliland - the Criminal Justice Compendium - has been launched by UNODC. Developed for use by police, prosecutors, legal aid practitioners and judges in the province, the Compendium offers a comprehensive guide on crime prevention and criminal justice. Ultimately, it aims to help improve judicial institutions and boost Somaliland's formal justice system.
While most criminal cases in Somaliland are settled through customary or Sharia'h justice measures, the use of formal judicial methods, which are more aligned with international standards may be a more preferable alternative. Yussuf Ismail, Somaliland's Chief Justice, commented at the launch of the tool that, "UNODC's Criminal Justice Compendium provides an excellent foundation for our efforts to deliver better justice." He additionally noted, "This Compendium includes international norms and standards and adapts them to reflect the challenges we face here in Somaliland. It will be an invaluable resource for the training and mentoring of our justice professionals for years to come."
The Compendium has been tailored to suit local conditions and is designed to assist in the training and mentoring of rule of law professionals within the wider region. It has also been developed with future technical assistance projects in mind: "The Criminal Justice Compendium will serve as a cornerstone of our future work in Somaliland, and stands as a testament to our deep commitment to rule of law reform throughout the region," said UNODC Regional Representative for East Africa, Jose Vila del Castilo.
Among other tools, the Compendium includes a criminal investigations guide and serious crimes operations manual for the police, as well as a sentencing guide for judges. Additionally, both defence and prosecuting lawyers can benefit from reference and legal aid manuals. All these materials enable legal aid practitioners to better understand their roles and responsibilities while providing them with the skills to apply the knowledge gained through them.