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Somaliland Security Committees



Many Somaliland civil organisations, both at home and abroad have been campaigning for a long time to convince the Somaliland Government to end the extra-judicial powers exercised by  administrative regional and district security committees staffed by public employees, which often send citizens to prison without due process of law. The Diaspora based Somaliland Forum and many other Somaliland civil groups,  as well as the Somaliland opposition poilitical parties have, over the years, called for the abolition  of these committees or at least the ending of their extra-judicial activities.  Somaliland has fully functioning courts of law and the extra-judicial powers of these committees go back to the dictatorship era  of the 1980s and 1990s and have no place in the constitutional democracy of Somaliland. 

The illegality of the actions of these committees has been explained in the numerous  submissions and press releases recorded in this page.   Many recommendations have been made to the Somaliland President, who has the power to stop these practices immediately,  and to  the parliament and the courts.   The Somaliland House of Representatives passed resolutions and a bill (the Organisation of the Judiciary Bill) which declare the actions of these committees unconstitutional and unlawful, yet as recently as April 2007, 24 butchers demonstarting against the decisions of the Hargeisa Mayor relating to abbattoir fees were sent to prison by the Hargeysa Regional Security Committee without any trial or legal representation.  The fact that the Mayor was himself  a member of the Security Committee speaks volumes about how objectionable the actions of these committees are to all tenets of natural justice.   It has been reported that, at any time, hundreds of persons who are in detention at the Somaliland prisons and police stations are there on the orders of or  sentences passed by   the  members of these Security Committees and have never been taken to a court of law. 

It appears  also that these Committees often go into action when citizens may be exercising their constitutional rights of  freedom of assembly.  There are ample provision in the Penal Code for dealing with public order offences and the point is that anyone who contravenes the law should be arrested according to the law and dealt with by a court of law.  No one is  criticising the important work that public officials undertake in safeguarding peace and security and any committees formed to strengthen this role  are very much needed and have the support of the Somaliland people, but there is no need for any administrative committees  sending citizens to jail  when there are  courts of law that can deal with any crimes. 

Besides depriving citizens of their liberties without due process of law, the continuing activities of these Committees have coloured the people’s views about  the Somaliland justice system and have damaged the standing of Somaliland. The message of this campaign is simple: These practices  must stop,  right now. 

Every member of these Security Committees who  participates in a decision to send an individual to prison without due process of law is being reminded of his   individual responsibility. Public officials who continue to contravene the provisions of the Constitution and the criminal laws of the land with impunity are reminded that the time will come when they will be held to account for the offences they have committed agianst their own citizens.  Somaliland is entering an election year and all candidates and political parties  will be asked by the public on where they stand on this issue.

The Security Committees: Legal Challenge

 12 May 2007: Nine plaintiffs currently in jail on the orders of security committees and the Human Rights Umbrella Organisation, Shuro-Net, tried to issue proceedings at the Somaliland Constitutional Court, but the Court refused to register the claims without any reason.   The plaintiffs will be re-submitting their claims. 

  • Shuro-Net Statement on Somaliland Security Committees and the Supreme (Constitutional) Court case challenging their legality and the initial response of the Court Chairman on 12 May 2007 - SOMALI   or   ENGLISH (pdf file)





  • Somaliland National Movement (SNM) Executive Committee Press Release on Security Committees: 14 July 1979
  • Somaliland Opposition Parties (Kulmiye & UCID) Formal Letter to the Somaliland Supreme Court about Security Committees: June 2004. (The Court took no notice of the referral).
  • Jamhuuriya Commentary on Security Committees 2001:  “Maxaa xal u ah xukunadda ciqaabeed ee aan sharcigu xalaalayn?”
  • Somaliland Times Editorial: Issue 270, 24 March 2007The sentencing of 18 butchers (10 of whom are women) to 6 months in prison for demonstrating against the city’s doubling of Hargeysa abattoir fees is just one more example that shows the intolerable condition of Somaliland’s justice system. By taking one draconian action after another, it is as if the government wants to convince the people that there is no such thing as justice in Somaliland. Strong words, you might say, but not really, when you consider that the sentences were handed by the Hargeysa Region’s Security Committee, a body that both Somaliland’s current and previous parliaments have said is an illegal entity....
  • Somaliland Times 22 May 2004: “156 Youngsters Sentenced By Controversial Panel But the Move is  widely Condemned” “ ...the Somaliland human rights group Samo-talis described the sentencing of the detainees by the regional security committee as illegal. The group called upon the Somaliland authorities to immediately release the detainees. In a 1999 decision, the Somaliland House of Representatives banned the role of security committees. Both under late president Egal and current President Rayale, the government never abolished this security apparatus. Security committees were formed under the “Emergency law” introduced during the time of dictator Siyad Barre. The law gave security committees the power to make arbitrary arrests and trials. The Somaliland government invokes this law routinely. But most legal experts consider the functions of this body as unconstitutional.”
  • Somaliland Times Editorial, Issue 279, 26th May 2007: Our other main concern is the government’s persistence to use the illegal security committee for the indefinite detention of citizens on the pretext that they pose risk to public order . ...The lower house of Parliament and the former Supreme Court chairman Faysal Haji Jama, have both declared the security committee apparatus as unconstitutional. However both houses of parliament are urgently required now to legislate a statute prohibiting the imprisonment of Somaliland citizens by the state except pursuant to an act of parliament. Every Somaliland citizen, even if a member of parliament, could wind up being jailed by a security committee with no way to defend herself or himself. ....The country’s parliamentarians should better act now before citizens become obliged to take the law into their hands”

Reported Examples of How the Police Are Obliged to Act on Orders of the Security Committee and in Defiance of the Courts:

  1. Lawyers Complain about Clients held in prison under orders of a Security Committee and in defiance of a Court order: September 2004
  2. Police Letter referring persons arrested for alleged public order offences to a Security Committee, rather than a court: June 2004

Somaliland Forum

Position Papers & Press Releases on Regional Security Committees


06 June 2004: Why Somaliland Forum is calling for the immediate abolition of the extra-judicial powers of the Somaliland Security Committee


English (pdf)   English (html) 


02 April 2007:   Guddiyadda Nabadgelyadda: Xubin Kasta oo Muwaadin Xabsi Ku Xukunta Waa Dambiile Mar uun lal Xisaabtaamidoono

Somaliland Forum: Direct Appeal to the President of Somaliland, Hon. Daahir Rayaale Kaahin: 06 June 2004 (in Somali)

Somaliland Forum: First Appeal to the Somaliland Parliament:

01 September 2004  (in Somali)

Second Appeal to the Parliament and Draft Bill to Abolish Security Committee: 28 February 2006 (in Somali)

Somaliland Forum Press Releases (in Somali):


12 June 2004


13 July 2004


18 May 2005


03 December 2006


11 April 2007


Somaliland House of Representatives1999 Resolution on Security Committees 

Representative’s Motion: July 1999

Somaliland Forum Draft Bill on the Abolition of the Extra-judicial powers of Somaliland Security Committees

2004 & 2006

The numerous Articles of Impeachment of President Egal one of which was the extra judicial activities of the Security Committees 21 July2001. The fact that the impeachment motion was narrowly defeated does not invalidate the House’s view about the Security Committees

Somaliland Lawyers’ Association calls for the abolition of the extra-judicial powers of the Somaliland Security Committees -  Communique 07 June 2007




Somaliland Government Position on Security Committees

The Somaliland Government has so far not published clearly which law it is relying on in maintaining the continuing extra-judicial powers of the Somaliland Security Commitees. No such law passed by both Somaliland Houses of Parliament and signed by the President exists and at various times  Government spokespersons have mentioned the 1963 Public Order Law, which  neither set up security committees nor gave local authorities extra-judicial powers without any court of law involvement. (For a detailed analysis of the 1963 Law see this article) . Some of the various statements relating to the security committees made by the last Minister of Internal Affairs and the Somaliland Attorney General General, can be seen in this note .   Recently (26/3/2007) the Somaliland Minister of Justice asserted that  security committees are legal, but did not say under which legislation they operated. The minister also alluded to continuing debates about the 1963 Public Order Law.

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