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Somaliland Criminal Procedure Law

The criminal procedure in Somaliland was based on the Indian Criminal Procedure Ordinance and the Indian Evidence Act 1872. After union with Somalia, the National Assembly passed Law No: 5 of 30 January 1962 which delegated to the Government power to enact, within six months, a Penal Code, a Criminal Procedure Code, a Traffic Code and an Organisation of the Judiciary Law.  Contini  remarks in his book, The Somali Republic: An Experiment in Legal Integration, Frank Cass & Co, London (1969) at page 45,  that to produce an integrated Penal Code and  Criminal Procedure Code within six months was “a Herculean endeavour”.  As it was “obviously impossible to produce ex novo two original codes within the allotted time, the first question was whether to use” the Somaliland law or the Somalia law. The deciding factor was, in end, the choice of the Somalian members “as most of the ministers and government officials were Italian trained” and so they opted for Italian Penal Code.  However, as some of them were “impressed with the expeditious handling of criminal cases during the British military administration of the South (Somalia) in the 40s” after Italy was defeated and Somalia was administered by the British military for a few years before it was handed back to Italy as an UN trusteeship territory,  it was decided that, exceptionally, the Criminal Procedure Code would be based on Somaliland Law.


The Criminal Procedure Code (which consists of 288 Articles) includes concepts which are found in common law countries, such as the presumption of innocence, the onus and burden of proof,  the writ of haebus corpus and (a relatively concise) rules of evidence.  The Code, was, however, affected by  various provisions in the Penal Code, such as Article 81 which states that any offence shall be punishable upon the complaint of the injured party unless it is one of the offences in which proceedings are initiated by the state; and, as  pointed out by Contini, the Code followed Italian law in allowing an injured party to sue for damages at the same time as the criminal case.


The Code (Legislative Decree No: 1 of 1 June 1963) was finally enacted on that date and came into force on 31 March 1965.  The Republic of Somaliland still uses the Criminal Procedure Code, and is very likely to continue using it, with some updating.

The Criminal Procedure Code 1963



An Index of all the Articles

Pdf file

Book One: General Provisions (Articles 1 to 95)

Part I Preliminary provisions

Part II Methods of securing the appearance of accused persons in court

Part III Pre-trial procedure

Part IV Trial procedure and penal sanction



Book Two: Proceedings of first instance (Articles 96 to 134)

Only one Part, but 7 Chapters covering the hearing,  burden of proof and the procedure for the trial, and judgement


Book Three: Evidence (Articles 135 to 207 )

Part I Relevancy of facts

Part II Production and effect of evidence

Part III examination of witnesses


Book four: Appeals and Execution (208 to 274)

Part I Appeals

Part II Execution


Book five: Judicial relations with foreign countries (Articles 275 – 288)

Part I Judicial relations with foreign countries

Part II Final Provisions








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