SOMALILAND ORGANISATION OF THE JUDICIARY LAW (Law no: 24/2003 as amended)
Background: This law was first passed by the House of Representatives in 2003, but has spent the last 5 years being stuck between the two House and the President. In the meantime the Judiciary had no choice but to use the various versions of the old laws and, in particular, the 1962 Law of the same name, as well as later laws which dealt with the grades of judges etc. In its latest version, which the President has returned to the House of Representatives, the latter has, finally, agreed on 16 March 2008, to accept all the amendments sought by the President. One of the provisions rejected by the President was the House proposal to ensure that the appointment and dismissal of all Supreme Court justices should be subject to confirmation by the House of Representatives. The Constitution currently sets such confirmation only for the Chief Justice and the President has therefore argued that the House proposal was “unconstitutional” whilst the House position was that as the constitution was silent on this point, but emphasises the independence of the judiciary, the proposal, far from being unconstitutional, in fact implemented and advanced an important constitutional principle. The House, in the end, endorsed the President’s changes on a lukework support of 23 for, 14 against and 8 abstaining. As the House could not muster the two thirds majority needed under Article 78(4) of the Constitution to overrule the President’s amendments, any smaller majority to reject them would have led to the whole Bill lapsing completely.
The House has also passed again on 22 March 2008 (when it rejected the amendments made by the House of Elders to) the Law on the Organisation of Juvenile Justice, and that Bill will now be going to the President for his consideration. It is our fervent hope that the Juvenile Justice Bill will not take 5 years to complete.
UPDATE April 2008: The Organisation of the Judiciary Law has finally finished the last main stage of its legislative journey on 16 March 2008 when the House of Representatives agreed to accept all the amendments sought by the President. The Bill has now finally come into force. A Presidential Decree No: 337 of 20 April 2008 stated that Article 10 of the Law has come into force, but does not mention the rest of the Law which he has accepted before. The House of Representatives has promulgated the Law and has has published it on its website.
Here is a pdf copy of the final SOMALILAND ORGANISATION OF THE JUDICIARY LAW (still numbered Law No: 24/03&06), as signed by the President on 20 April 2008. This copy also includes both the House final Resolution and the President’s Decree and consists of 49 Articles. A smaller pdf copy of the final law (the 49 Articles version) (posted before on this page before) is available at this link.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE IS ALSO A VERSION OF THE LAW WHICH CONSISTS OF 60 ARTICLES AND THE PRESIDENTIAL DECREES WHICH HAS ALSO BEEN CIRCULATED BY THE HOUSE.
Editor’s Note (Sep 2012): This Law has taken a long time to finalise as it was initially passed by both Houses in 2003 It is a matter of considerable concern to everyone that there are still two versions of this important Law. This is all to do with the fact that when the President finally signed the Law in 2008, he specifically promulgated only one article (Article 10) and not the whole law. At the time there were also two other bills in which the President also choose to implement only one article each in his final promulgation decrees. It is (and has been) my view that, under the Somaliland Constitution, the President’s power of approving primary legislation (bills/laws) is limited to accepting or rejecting bills, as a whole, and does not extend to a “line item” approval of bills. In these circumstances, there are cogent arguments for the House promulgating the bill in the format that it was agreed by both Houses as the approval of one article of the bill by the President is neither an acceptance nor a rejection of the bill. I have already commented about this issue in connection with the other two bills.
It appears, however, that a new Organisation of the Judiciary bill is currently (2012) been drafted and, in my view, the sooner it is completed, the better . If the process is likely to take long, then, for the sake of clarity, an agreed statement by the House and the President as to the correct version will remove the current confusion; failing that a decision from the Constitutional Court may be the only deciding factor - Editor.
This page will be updated in the light of the emerging developments relating to the proposed changes to the Law.
SOMALILAND ORGANISATION OF THE JUDICIARY LAW