Published On: Thu, May 17th, 2012

SOMALILAND: Where is the Justice in our Justice System?

OPINION | May 17, 2012

By Ali Yare

What is the need for maintaining a military base in the densely populated and residential neighbourhood? How could a civilian be tried in a martial court under the military law? Are these not the reasons why the people of Somaliland root out the former dictatorial regime by paying heavy price by their valueless lives and blood? These are the question that any decent Somaliland citizen should ask himself or herself.

A couple of days ago a confrontation that resulted in the death of seven civilians and military personnel and the injury of many others after a group of heavily armed youth launched an attack on a military base which they claim to have been taken from them illegally without no compensation. This attack and confrontation ensued after the legal mechanism in the Somaliland Republic has failed to handle the dispute in fair and judicious manner.

First of all, one would see no reason why the government maintain a military base in the middle of densely populated and residential area. The military is the defense forces of the nation that are designed to protect the country from external and foreign enemy. Logically the bases should have been relocated in the border area of the country and in arms length of civilian population. Only dictatorial regimes keep a heavily fortified military base within the vicinity. This military base was established by the former dictatorial regime of Mohamed Said Barre to control the Somaliland population. It is a fact that this land was confiscated from individuals without any compensation. The last four successive governments established in Somaliland after it had claimed back its independence from Somalia Republic had not attempted to evict the local people who were been able to claim back their illegally confiscated land after their return from refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

One would think that the days when the local population was suspected as enemies within had long by foregone. However, the decision to keep a military base within the residential area is a clear example that the Somaliland government has not yet grown out of the old mentality of being wary of its own people. If we do not see our own people on equal footing and be a role model for the next generation, it would be impossible to achieve stability and peace in our nation which has determined enemies all over the vicinity. This incident also clearly demonstrated that how the military and the police forces tried to handle the situation. There is no doubt that the military and the police have used excessive forces in defending their positions. It would be an insult to those European donors that finance the recurrent training and salary of the special police unit. Somaliland is expected to be an example to good governance and democratic value. What distinguish our nation and the thing we are proud of is our tolerance and respect for human dignity. We would not be any different from our brothers and sisters in Somalia Republic if we militarise every civil issues. Civilians who have been frustrated by the web of oppressions and systematic alienation would have no option than using all means necessary to defend their right. It is from the government we have to expect patience, tolerance and fair treatment.

Report coming from the local area confirms that there was a long dispute between the local people and Somaliland’s top military officials. The dispute has been taken to the court for a judicial settlement. However, it would be hard to expect the Somaliland judicial system would be in position to handle a case in which powerful military personnel and top official in regime are involved. Before the conflict there was a rumor circulating among the local population that their land would be contracted to crooked private companies engaged in clandestine land grab in Somaliland since the current government came to power. It is worthwhile to mention a number of companies owned by individuals who hail from the same Isaq sub-clan as the current president have been engaged in buying a huge tract of land in most parts of Somaliland. A recent contract awarding Dahabshiil, a multimillionaire company close the president, an exclusive right for the a destroyed cement plant in Berbera city has met stiff opposition. Dahabshiil has since abandoned its plans to take over.

A democratically elected government is expected to follow the rule of the law in solving issues concerning its own society. It is sad that the current Somaliland government has not been able to manage disputes that have arisen in every corner of the country. A case in point is the dispute currently on going in the Buhoodle area.

The election of a new government in Somaliland has brought a new dimension in the Somaliland’s volatile political dynamic. Recently it is reported that there is a widespread land grab by the government officials who are spurred by corruption. Many companies rumored to have strong connection with the current government in Somaliland are in race of land grab.

The naked incompetence of the current government was evidenced by the way the civilians rounded up after the confrontation was brought to criminal justice system. It is sad that a civilian government would allow non-military person to be charged, tried and sentenced in military court. A military court is specifically designed for military person who commit crime. There is no law around the world where a civilian would be tried in a military court. One would have justified easily if there was a marshal decree and the country was in emergency situation. As far as my knowledge is concerned, there is no any martial law in place in Somaliland. It is a reality that one would hardly deny that many civil strives have mushroomed around the country since the current government came into power. This is partly due to the disregard the current Somaliland government shows towards the long existing tradition of tolerance and respect to every civil and community rights and freedom in Somaliland.

It is worthwhile to make a note here the caution the former president of Somaliland, Dahir Riyale Khahin, made in his final speech during official ceremony handing the presidential power to the successor, Mohamed Ahmed. In his speech the former president made clear that he would appreciate if the elected president give priority in keeping intact the whole Somaliland as it used to be then. It is less than two years when this reality was shatter by the nepotism and flagrant disregard to the local population basic rights and freedoms. It would be a sad scenario if the current government does not heed the plight of its own people and handle every citizen in equal term. It would be an irony if the good cause all Somaliland brothers and sisters sacrificed their blood and lives turned into vain.

By Ali Yare

About the Author

- I am currently based in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

  • Kayse

    There is no justice in a world where one isolates itself. Justice is universal and the Somaliland project is the vision of two subclans who isolated themselves from the rest of the international community. When you lock yourself, all justice and universal principles are left behind in the out side world.

    The two subclans that run Somaliland have confined themselves and the rest of the public to a tiny place that can support its own weight only for so long. When you remove yourself from humanity including your close immediate Somali family, you have also removed the very essence of justice from your inner-self.

    When you say your brother is not your brother but someone from an ex-Italian colony, you have destroyed your inner soul. Justice is like a piece of string. People can knit a piece of string or thread together and make something they can WEAR, justice is the same when you put together equal portion for everyone. You can wear justice. Justice is fair exchange. Swapping one thing fairly in return for another is not the same as stealing. In this case the two subclans in Hargeisa want to steal gardens from residents without any returns. Justice is the thread that binds us not the fake patriotism that some have dedicated to their entire lives and now as a result lost in limbo.

    Funny how they accuse Mogadishu of genocide but they doing the exact doings, far worse, at least Mogadishu government was legit and had mandate unlike the two subclan sub regional council that thinks it can rule others.

    • ahmed

      kayse, brother please respect the somaliland law. somalilander made those law at very begin at constitution. it clear to make sure everyone fellow law. it create for purpose of safe order matter. in this few uneducated and irgornt men attacted the base of somaliland army. The army of somaliland are key of peace and defend the somaliland any attack. every citizen have good respect of somaliland army who put their life in risk for somaliland people. those who attack didn't just somaliland army, they attack the country. the attacker should be dial same way as who who attack on 2008. yes commited crime in army, legal court is the army court.

  • Abraham

    Stop shedding futile clan tears for the condemned anarchists. They will be put to death, that is what the Somaliland law says. And please don't mislead the public because every democratic country in the world has some of its military bases in urban areas. We do have them here in Britain and the USA has got even more.

    • Burcawii

      Abraham, what death you are talking about? No one is going to put to death because this will be in the interest of SL. The government didn't handle the situation right from the begining and they should be help responsible for their act. Indivduals died from both side and now all sides of SL should set together and find a perminent solution for this. Otherwise we will all go back to the dark age.

  • A Abdi

    How embarrasing for so called Somalilanders who are talking about violence meance that they use to accuse Somalia with. Africans always have an excuse for greed whether its religious or clan or tribal difference and this current regime isn't any different. Sad but reality.

  • A Abdi

    Violence beggets violence. You would think we learnt by now.

  • Ina Cali

    The sentencing of the 17 People to death by the military court has cause outrage and comparisons has been made with the bare state. Many are asking how did the government allow for the situation to get to the state where 7 die and 17 are given death sentence only after one day.
    In contrast the government states that once you take arms agains the government you take the arms against the people of Somaliland. Majority of the people in Somaliland had voted for this government, there by implying you have given your consent to this government Therefore if you are unhappy with make a change at the ballot box.
    For all the stability in Somaliland Somalis are still a tribal society and wether its perception or reality the injustice felt by one group quickly become a tribal issue and sense coexistence require an agreement from all to abide by the rules. This does not exclude the government which reflect society in general, therefore it's not a surprise the people react to the government as advocating the interest of a particular tribe and this is not unique to this government. This has been evident in soole sanaag sahil and know in hargaysa. 
    In conclusion those who care for the people wether in government or not need for care to be taken in their reaction. i am however particularly disappointed with Somaliland press for there irresponsibility in this case and many others in allowing it to be used as platform for hate mongering and incitement to violence. For those who think we are any different from what happens in muqadisho they need to understand that we share more them we differ so it wise to take stock of the situation. To our brothers who like unity of somalia do you think it worth having Somaliland back even if it's soaked in blood and plunged in darkness. What I do not understand is why it is you want Somali unity if you rejoice in the death and the destabilisation of parts of the  you so want to be apart of your country.

  • Abraham

    Where is my other comment SLPress? Why did you delete it?

  • Abraham

    The anarchists belong to just one of the many sub clans of HY and have no sympathy or support whatsoever from the vast majority of the large patriotic HY clan. This particular sub clan is also the one whose members were found to be behind last year's string of attacks on people's homes in Hargeisa where they set fire on and destroyed many properties. I along with the rest of HY especially my HY sub clan in Sanaag stand by our goverment and military and utterly condemn these anarchists. I beleive these young men were brainwashed into taking arms against their government and military by some of their greedy elders who should also be apprehended and brought to justice. The corrupt evil men behind this violence should be executed too. No clan or sub clan in Somaliland should get away with crimes against our country and all those who think they can intimidate and threaten Somaliland should be given a rude awakening.

    Happy 18 May.

  • Kayse

    Issaks like Abraham, Gobaad and Obsiye or whatever are showing their true colors. It only took one incident to reveal their animosity for their own so I see why Hartis and Samaroons have fled. Good on you and viva Awdalland and Khaatumo, soon we will have G-unit state and it will be a federal state within the greater Somalia.

    • Gobaad

      Kayse, good riddance of a bad rubbish! Go, welba F**sh baa ahaydeena.

      • Kayse

        Fuuny how you call F9ash the very one who freed you from Morgan, built you refugee camps in Somali region of Ethio, the world refuses to accept a regional Council as a government 21 years of false hopes even got dashed away further this week, get ready for G Unit State and the first 50 shilling note!

    • ayanle

      @Kayse ain't you supposed to be a somaliland diehard fan ? i've been away of SL's press for a while but this is how i use to remember you bro' .
      Anyway don't make the same mistake that you used to do back in the day. Real somali don't hate on each other. Let them pursue their dream of international recognition. When they will get tired they'll come back to their filthy-rich-oil-money somalian citizenship.

      • ayanle

        To the other Diehard somalilander i have just one question. Is it because somalia became a failed state
        that you want recognition ? will you still want it after Somalia become Arab-money-style rich ?
        I swear to god that at least one third of you guys will change your mind.

        • ayanle

          im thinking of buying land in puntland or south somalia or even my homeland of hargeisa. I'm sure i can make profit of it. Building Booming is soon get ready gentlemen.
          Beside SL will get his share too. how about a Somali fund for reconstruction investing in all somalia infrastructure. Even our greedy government can't eat all the pie. there is simply too much.
          Our governement will Build road, airport and seaport, and somali business acumen will do the rest.
          all in all I see a bright future for all of us brother and sister !!!

          • Abraham

            You are a good man Ayaanle but I wish the Somali problem could be solved with money.

          • Ayanle

            No but it can ease the pain and help to forgive. I don't believe in any flag. What for ? When poverty hit you You don't really care if the money is southern or northern.
            Thus let's say the first to get on his feet owe to help the other. We All somali afterAll !

  • M. Khalid

    Respecting the rights of the citizens includes safeguarding them from internal crime, foreign attack and sabotage. If the likes who attacked the military base are not punished, what is the meaning of maintaining peace and order in the country? These men scared Hargeisa community and reminded them of the old days when some people took the law in their hands. Yes the constitution gives us many freedoms, but not the freedom to compromise existence as a sovereign state.

  • Omer Hussein Dualeh

    We need inside information of this guy Kayse. Who knows him, and from where he is fighting from? Our intelligence services should go after him, because what he is doing is treason in big way. The whole tribe of his have come to apologise, yet he is farting here 24 hours a day. What exactly he wants here?

    Was he a patriot yesterday, and all of sudden changed his skin due to this incident?. No he was not, but was disguising himself with sheep's far or color.

  • Amaal

    Somalis Please! solve ur problems n mess. we re not getting anywhere unless a proper justice is established amongst ourselves. we are failing and will fail harder unless we stop the crap talks n treat each other fairly n come together as one. Peace

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