SOMALILAND POLICE LAW
“Challenge: Developing from a force, considered for too long to be part of the armed forces, to a service that maintains the peace, protects law and order and serves the public of Somaliland”
The formation of the Somaliland Police goes back to 1910 when a Somaliland Coastal Police was formed. This was followed by the establishment of the Somaliland Camel Constabulary to police the interior. A combined police force was set up in 1926 which included a rural force (Ilalo). On Somaliland independence in June 1960, the main law that governed the organisation and work of the police force was the Police Ordinance (Ordinance No. 2 of 1958). On the State of Somaliland’s union with Somalia in July 1960, the Somaliland Police became part of the new Somali Republic Police. The Ilalo was merged with the Police in 1970 (Law No. 5 of 17/1/1970).
The previous Somaliland criminal law and criminal procedures (based on Indian Acts) continued to apply until 1964 and 1975 respectively.
The Somaliland Police Force was re-formed with effect from 2 November 1993. The laws relating to the Somaliland Police, as far as we can ascertain, are:
- The Law on the Structure of the Somaliland Police Force - Law No. 54 of 3 November 1994. This is a faint copy and we will be posting here a re-typed copy with the amendments made to this Law by Law No. 7/95 (below) also noted therein as Arts 1, 4,5,6,7 and 9 of the 1994 Law were amended by the 1995 Law.
- Somaliland Police Establishment (Amendment) Law - Law No. 7/95 amending the 1994 Structure Law, as well as Arts. 2, 13 and 14 of the 1995 Regulations (below) .
- The Somaliland Police Regulations 1995 (Regulations No. RSLP/D-1.131/95) consisting of 88 Articles cover all aspects of the police force establishment, structure and ranks, recruitment, condition of service, discipline etc. The Regulations include provisions similar to both the 1972 Police Law and the 1974 Police Regulations(see below), but replace both of them. (See below for the text of the Regulations).
The current ranks of the Somaliland Police Force which were fully implemented in 2013 are those set out in Article 19 of the Somaliland Police Regulations 1995 (see below) which follow the military ranks and are briefly as follows:
- General Officers (Brigadier General and above ) (In Somali, Sareeye Guuto ),
- Senior Officers (Colonel [Gaashaanle Sare], Lt. Colonel [Gaashaanle Dhexe]and Major [Gaashaanle])
- Junior Officers (Captain [Dhamme], Lieutenant [Laba xidigle] and Second or sub-Lieutenant [Xidigle])
- Inspectors (III, II and I) [Kormeere 3aad, 2aad iyo 1aad) ranking in this descending order;
- Sergeants [Saddex Alifle] and Corporals [Laba Alifle];
- Recruit Officers [Layli Sarkaal];
- Dablay (meaning ‘riflemen’ or ‘soldiers’ as these are essentially military ranks) consisting of one-stripe corporals [Alifle], Dable (the main Police rank) and Recruit Dable [Layli Dable] are now all referred to as ‘Askari’ in the Police Bill which reflects the term most commonly used for members of the Force with no rank) .
UPDATES on the Police Bill: July 2012: A new bill, the Somaliland Police Force Bill 2012 is currently been considered by the House Internal Affairs Committee and is likely to be considered at the next session of the House starting in September 2012. [Note the Bill has been considerably amended since 2012 - we shall post a copy of the Law here when it is finally signed into law by the President]
Update: March 2013: After the first reading (in December 2012) and some debates at the House, the Bill was referred back to the Committee. The Bill is likely to receive its second reading at the next session of the House which is starting in mid April 2013.
August 2014- Update on the Police Bill: The Bill had its second reading in June 2013, and third reading in September 2013. It was passed by the House of Representatives (HoR) on 5 October 2013 (on a vote of 35 for, 3 against and 10 abstaining). The House of Elders (HoE) considered it speedily and approved it, with amendments, on 29 October 2013. The HoE considered the Elders’ amendments and approved the amended draft Bill on 29 December 2013 (on a vote of 45 for and 10 abstentions). The HoR forwarded the Bill to the President for his signature on 15 January 2014 .
The President returned the draft law to the House on 3 February 2014 (as he is entitled to do so under Art. 78(3) of the Constitution) and set out the provisions of the Bill to which he objected. The House not publicised the retuned bill and the reasons for the president’s reasons for referring back the bill nor has the returned Bill been re-considered by the House yet. There is no set time limit for reconsideration of returned bills, and under Art. 78(4), if the House can either pass the law again on a two thirds majority vote, in which case, the President will have to accept the Bill, as passed. If, however, the House cannot muster such qualified majority vote and do not accept the President’s proposed changes, then the Bill (draft law) lapses.
The danger, therefore , at present, is that the whole bill will lapse if there is no agreement on the final version and then a new bill has to be re-considered by both Houses with the whole legislative cycle re-starting again. In the meantime the current (dated) Police Laws and Regulations (see below) shall continue to be in force.
July 2014: Presidential Decree (No. 0403/072014 of 5 July 2014) on the Establishment of the Somaliland National Fire Brigade which comes under the Police Command and shall have same rank structure as the Police Force. The Commander and the Deputy Commander of the Fire Brigade, shall, according to the Decree, be appointed by the Commandant of the Police Force, on the advice of the Minister of Internal Affairs. This appears to suggest that serving Police Officers would be appointed by the Commandant, as under the draft Police Law, Police officers of second lieutenant rank and above are appointed under a Presidential decree. The practice of the Fire Brigade being part of the Police Force goes back to the pre 1991 position
The Somaliland Police Regulations 1995:
The following table sets out the provisions of the Somaliland Police Regulations 1995 (large file) in sections of 5 to 6 scanned pages each:
The Somaliland Constitution (and the interim 1997 Constitution) confirms under Article 124(1) that the Somaliland “Police Force shall be responsible for protecting the peace and for enforcing the law, and (that) its structure and duties shall be set out by law.”
The main pre 1991 laws were the 1972 Organisation of Police Force (Law No. 2 of 23/12/1972), the 1973 Police Regulations (Decree No. 14 of 4/1/1973) and the 1997 Police Uniform and Equipment Law (Law No. 30 of 13/8/1979). [It has been drawn to our attention that the English language copy of the 1972 is missing parts of Article 4 to Article 10. This Note sets out the missing clauses and articles which are currently available in the Italian text of the 1972 Law]. In Somaliland, all these laws and Regulations have all been superseded by the 1994 Law and the 1995 Regulations.
The Somaliland Police Force has a training academy at Mandhera (which was set up during the Somaliland Protectorate) and, with the exception of some areas in the far east of the country, has stations through the regions and districts of Somaliland.
2011: Somaliland is currently engaged in re-organising and modernising the Somaliland Police Force. The UNDP has provided considerable help to the Force. A number of consultation meetings has taken place last year about the re-organisation, structure (including ranking) of the Force and the adoption of new modern laws that emphasise the role of a modern police service in a democracy - See: Somaliland progress towards police reform (April 2010). A national Somaliland Police charter was adopted after a national convention on police reform held in April 2010. Somalilandlaw.com welcomes this long overdue reform and makes the following comments on the police reform agenda: Copy of the 2011 Somalilandlaw.com recommendations which previously here.
POLICE POWERS under the Criminal Procedure Code (to follow)
POLICE RELATED ITEMS: